Chef Tips

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  • No fine clothes can hide the clown… Apparently

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    Anyone who tries to educate employees with a help of e-learning solutions may come across, at least, several problems. One of the key points in this context is the course design. Let’s take a closer look at this issue.

    No matter how good the content is – it is completely ineffective if the course design has no proper realization. So, how to dress up the e-learning course in order to make it not only visually attractive, but also efficient according to educational point of view?

    There are the two essential pillars on which the successful course design is based. The first one is the compliance with the educational goals. The second one can be described as a sense of proportion. There would be no proper design in case you miss at least one of these key points. This seems obvious but many people often forget about it.

    The compliance with the educational goals

    Any visual realization of the course concept should be subjected to the educational goals that are expected to be achieved after the course completion. If customers want their managers to be the greatest sales agents in the world, there is no need to force them to take any actions they are not supposed to, such as camping in the woods etc. The virtual shop where users can improve their marketing skills would be much more efficient.

    The sense of proportion

    The main purpose of the course design is to ensure a positive impact on users’ perception. However, more is not always better: bright material attracts user’s attention. On the one hand that is extremely useful for solving educational tasks, but on the other hand it distracts from the content. Thus, it looks cool but useless.

    Therefore, the course design should be relevant enough in order to engage in training activities, to inspire users' creativity and to provide better mastering of the educational material. Briefly, it can be described as a discreet elegance: user should keep in mind the main purpose of the e-learning course, analyzing its theoretical structure.

    Thus, to protect the pillars from destruction, the creative mind of a course designer should fit perfectly into the overall composition. In this regard, to ensure the educational quality of the e-learning course, the following steps should be taken:

    • initial analysis of the target audience
    • definition of the educational objectives and goals
    • detailed study of the course material
    • selection of the e-learning tools
    • creation of content
    • creation of graphic design
    • e-course narration
    • e-course development

    Please note: even the most pleasant result may need to be improved after course testing.

    The Style

    The educational goals are defined and the middle ground is prevailed, but eventually the course is failed. Well, it happens. If you dig deeper, you will find another essential element of the e-course development – the style. There are many styles in the arsenal of a modern graphic designer, but you should be aware that not every style fits the e-course content. We know many cases when a specific design is simply not appropriate (for example, legal documents and cartoons are not relevant at all). Moreover, each e-course style requires a specific methodological approach.

    Minimalism with infographic elements holds a strong position in the e-learning field. If you choose this style, you e-course can be both bright and discreet. High quality photos and beautifully designed text help e-course developers to simplify even the most complex material, making it clear and visually attractive. If there are many charts and diagrams, this type of design helps you to combine them into coherent visual blocks.

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    Another highly demanded design style is 3D-graphics – a set of procedures and techniques for creating various illustrations. The e-course developers have a lot of creative space because there are no any specific restrictions as in a previous method. You can use the three-dimensional objects, vector and photo characters, which would be more vivid and attractive with some infographic inclusions.

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    There are many e-course topics, which can be illustrated with a help of such design techniques as retro, vintage or grunge. The first two of these styles are easily recognizable due to the thematic images, the muted tones, the proper textures and various graphic effects that give a vintage look to the whole slide objects. These styles recreate the atmosphere of the ancient times and effectively represent the main idea of various projects. It could be some training courses for catering business, travel companies, photo studios and much more. The distinctive feature of the grunge style is a creative negligence. All these spots, abrasions and dark palettes contain some allusions to freedom. Please, be aware: the usage of these styles requires caution – it is extremely necessary to keep sense of proportion.

    Conservative style with its restrained interface is something completely different: the texts in such courses are designed rather simply, but visually attractive slides provide better mastering of the educational material in accordance with the pedagogical tasks. Such courses help users catch the main idea quickly and have no excesses at all.

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    One of the most criticized styles today is skeuomorph, which was one of the most popular design techniques several years ago. It is quite reasonable according to user-friendly interface – each element is accurately detailed, including substrate and buttons. There is no need to look for the undertones. The distinctive feature of the skeuomorph is the simulation of the real-life objects.

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    Despite the fact that many e-course developers criticize skeuomorph for a poor creativity, it has no bad effect on its use. In this case, the popularity is a matter of tendentiousness, which is not harmful at all.

    If the style corresponds to the design task, you’ll get bright and effective e-course. However, let’s go back to the main thesis which we’ve put in the title. Please, note: even the coolest design will not save the course with poor content. Therefore, always keep in mind the leading role of what you are going to present.

    In other words, under the bright cloth there should be something else. Good luck!

  • Arcade Game - Single Choice Quiz Adventure

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    Alright, there we go again. eLearningchips continues to introduce new product line of scenario-based elearning templates, offering creative design solutions in the e-course development. Today we are ready to announce new Articulate Storyline interaction which is designed to provide better users' involvement in the process of training. The template is presented in the form of interactive game, where users are supposed to take six level quiz in order to complete all tasks and to get to the destination point.

    The educational part consists of several single choice questions. Each correct answer allows user to take one step forward. The logical sequence is universal for the vast majority of learning situations.

    The template will be available for FREE DOWNLOAD within one week, until October 30. Don't miss you chance and try it out right now for free.

  • Help Chicken to Complete the Course - a Series of New Scenario-Based Templates

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    Presenting "Chicken Adventure Template" eLearningchips launches a campaign of scenario-based elearning assets that are designed to diversify the process of the e-course development. The main goal is to turn usually boring course tasks into a fascinating educational process, bringing users’ interest up.

    Our first scenario-based storyline template opens completely new opportunities in e-course development. The template consist of several interactive slides that present the fascinating visual story, where users are supposed to have an adventure with their chicken friend and must help this funny cartoon creature to complete all tasks successfully on her way to the final course point. The unique storyboard has a multi-purpose logical sequence, which is universal for the vast majority of learning situations.

    The educational part consists of drag and drop interactions and several answer options, including single / multiple choice and yes / no questions.

    Don't miss your chance to get Chicken Adventure Template at the SPECIAL PRICE. Hurry up: the proposal is valid within one week, until October 28.

  • Efficient eLearning: Scenario-based Dialogue Interactions

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    There are such cases during e-course development when it is necessary to illustrate a particular situation through a face-to-face communication. Typically, this is done in order to simplify the mastering of the course material, dividing it into several text blocks. Some characters are introduced to course in order to maintain a logical chain and to present an appropriate information to users.

    In practice, it can be a dialogue between supervisor and subordinate, or conversation between two business partners, or small talk between customer service representative and the client and so on. eLearningchips has prepared a series of scenario-based interactions that illustrate the most common business situations.

    For example, in some case, the interaction represents a single choice quiz composed of one question with three possible answer choices including the correct answer and two incorrect answers. After selecting an answer, user gets immediate feedback.

    There are also some quizzes with a single choice that are represented in a form of exchange of opinions between two cutout characters. They propose possible solutions (answer options) to the case described in the question box. Feedback messages include both characters’ reactions and relevant comments.

    There are also ready-made conversations between the insurance company manager and the client, HR manager and potential candidate, customer and restaurant administrator and much more. The complete list of dialogues are available here.

  • Creative eLearning: Gamified Interactions To Stand You Out From The Crowd

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    You’ve probably seen lots of eLearning templates that present educational material in usual ways. These are undoubtedly very useful tools, but they do not cover all the objectives of the educational process. Nowadays, when learning becomes more progressive and interactive, the majority of coachers are faced with the problem of an effective engagement of students into the learning.

    One of the possible solutions to this problem could be the use of gamified interactions that present information by means of creative developers’ ideas. Such an approach allows to keep user’s attention during the long period of time. This is especially helpful if your course is filled with complicated and difficult-to-understand material: using of gamified interactions allows users to master it well and without much difficulty.

    According to recent research held by Institute of Play, gamified tasks make education more engaging and relevant to modern kids. That is why such interactions are particularly useful in today’s comprehensive training programs. The undeniable advantage of this concept, among other things, concerns its versatility: with help of gamified interactions, you may solve even local relatively small learning units and short-term activities.

    Today we are pleased to introduce our small initiative in the development of the gamified interactions: 20+ Articulate Storyline Templates that use the creative design solutions in order to make learning more attractive to users. For example, it is necessary to perform a certain action to complete the task, which is a part of a story plot. In some cases, users must feed the worm or help the angler to get a good catch. In addition, they will be invited to travel around the world or to hold the scientific experiment. Although it sounds weird, it works and has a positive impact, helping users to master the complex material.

    In order to familiarize yourself with all the pros of gamified interactions, we invite you to go to product pages and click demo to preview the desirable items. In conclusion, it is important to mention that all the gamified interactions all fully compatible with eLearning Templates and could be easily imported into the training course. Choose the desirable interactions and create the engaging eLearning course.

  • How to speak without words: secrets of non-verbal communication

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    Language appeared when the person felt the need to lie. These words emphasize the fact we would rather trust the body language, but not the content of a particular statement.

    Strike an attitude!

    Our bodies cannot remain silent constantly: they have to communicate. Even when we do not make a sound, we still communicate with others. It is a scientific fact that only 7% of information are perceived through a verbal communication. Postures, gestures and facial expressions make up 55% of the total number of communication methods. Lectures and public speakers have been using this powerful communication model to solve didactic problems for a long time, but whether it would be useful for e learning as well? Well, why not? Taking into account that we use characters to personalize the process of learning, to grab users’ attention and to increase their motivation to learn, it is a quite reasonable idea to “teach” characters to use their body language.

    1. Open body language

    If you need to express positive emotions, to show your sincere interest in others, you’d better opt for smiling character showing their palms, as it is the most effective gesture of openness. You may also unbutton their jacket or put their hands to the chest.

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    2. Thoughtfulness

    If you want to demonstrate the state of deep thoughtfulness and concentration when making a decision, make your character hold one hand on their chin.

    3. Confidence

    The confidence can be shown by putting character’s hands behind their head. You may also make them stand with arms behind the back or with fingers connected together. If you character keeps their thumbs out from the pockets or holds hands on waist that will not only show person’s confidence, but will also demonstrate their superiority

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    4. Closed postures

    Character’s fists and hands on hips are the demonstration of anger and aggression, as hands across the chest are the evidence of mistrust and the way to protect themselves. Please, remember: such gestures are appropriate only in particular situations. For example, when you try to cause negative users’ emotions.

    5. Frustration

    Well, this guy definitely has some problems. He's upset, depressed and trying to find a way out of this situation. That’s why he’s leaning forward putting head in his hand.

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    The face is the mirror of the mind

    Face is the main source of non-verbal information as eyes, smile, elbows and even minor wrinkles can say more than millions of words. The Chinese invented physiognomy thousands of years ago. They even predicted fate, taking into account the distinctive features of person’s face. It would be interesting to know the further development of the course characters presenting with stone faces, protruding eyes and lips moving out of place. To make things worse, imagine the cheerful character that welcomes you at the beginning of the course, accompanies throughout its duration, congratulates at the end and says that you have just failed the test with an optimistic smile on the face. If there’s no congruence that can be described as a conformity of words and body language, users would rather believe character’s emotions. You can be happy as you do not upset course users, but inappropriate character’s smile prevents the solution of educational problems. This is not just annoying, but also misleading as distorts the meaning of the information. That is why we recommend use characters with a wide range of emotions and facial expressions. It is rather simple, because there are only a few basic emotions that are easily to detect and transmit.

    1. Happiness

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    If someone is happy, they usually have small wrinkles around the eyes. Their cheeks and lips are slightly lifted.

    2. Surprise

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    If person is surprised, their eyes are wide open.

    3. Anger

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    If person is angry, they frown and squint.

    4. Contempt

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    Contempt reveals when person raises their eyebrows and curves their lips.

    5. Sadness

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    If person is sad, they have pensive look on theirs face.

    6. Anxiety

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    If someone is anxious, their facial expressions are very dramatic.

    So, what can I do?

    So, what can you do to make your course characters emotional with a wide range of facial expressions?

    • Plan a photo shoot. This approach allows you to get desirable angles, postures, emotions and facial expressions, but you should have an appropriate equipment, rent the studio, find professional photo models and hire good photographer. So, plan your budget beforehand.
    • Use authoring tools, such as Articulate Storyline, Lectora Publisher, etc. You can even find already designed course characters with some basic emotions in some of them.
    • Download stock course characters. You will get a variety of different cutout people photos and vector images that are commonly used during e-course development.

    Well, have fun! We hope our advice will bring you good luck and help create memorable e-course.

  • Gamification: Pros and Cons

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    Gamification becomes an integral part of e-learning today. The world's best banks require cartoon characters and funny poems to teach employees to cope with their duties. Distributors agree to acquaint themselves with the product line only if they get some bonuses. Even government officials want to receive the instructions only in the form of games, otherwise it becomes incredibly boring. It seems that the majority of students just want to have fun and this trend become a commonplace in our society. Since learning is the most difficult type of mental activity, the implementation of gamification may be considered as the way to avoid such kind of difficulties. But the client's wish is above all else, so we must to entertain our adult users. That's why they hunt for bonuses and trophies, choose characters and pass levels. In fact, such attributes of gamification are meaningless and have no positive effect.

    What is gamification?

    The concept of gamification is not limited to computer games, most of which are completely meaningless and useless for adults. Gamification in learning is a way to use game thinking for solving didactic problems. The key word here is "thinking". The game promotes development due to the logic. Chess, by the way, is also a game. The use of gamification in e-learning may be described as a construction of a specific game logic. Gamification is motivation, but such motivation is some kind of special, since appeals to the receiving of encouraging awards. The most motivating elements are complex tasks, creative work and the process of training others.

    The mechanism of gamification

    If you're going to use gamification to create e-courses you have to understand its mechanism.

    Learning is a conscious process, which involves the cerebral hemispheres of the brain. The game directs by the subconscious mind. That's why the game is fun: there's no need to force your consciousness to work.

    During the learning process information enters the brain as a continuous stream, until the consciousness shuts down for self-preservation. During the game the information is given in small doses. Thus consciousness is involved occasionally and subconsciousness has a dominant position. This phenomenon actually describes the mechanism of gamification. It's necessary to split information into the blocks, to alternate known / unknown components, to use different kinds of tasks, to regulate learning material, to allow user to feel the state of enlightenment and success.

    Learn from your mistakes

    Another feature of gamification is an ability to repeatedly make mistakes without negative consequences. Mistakes and failures which were made in game are not considered as something shameful. Moreover, the more unsuccessful attempts were made, the faster you'll go to a higher level. Use it in e-courses. Allow user to make mistakes giving tasks at different levels of complexity until he mastered the required skills. And please, remember: learning is a conscious process that requires efforts. It's necessary to help our students to go through this difficult path, but do not fully transform learning into child's play.

  • 5 Storytelling Tips For Instructional Designers: How To Capture User's Attention

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    According to an ancient Indian proverb, those who tell the stories, rule the world. Fairy tales and parables carry the wisdom accumulated over the centuries. So why the information which is presented as some kind of story is easily perceived? The answer is quite simple. The learning process is usually controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain. At the same time our consciousness acts as a security system, which is opposes any changes. But when you listen to fairy tales, you activate the right hemisphere, which works with images. In this case subconsciousness perceives the information without going through your "inner guard". Thus storytelling is an effective tool for information transmission, which is based on the subconscious mind. This makes it an effective way to influence the listener. Storytelling is often used in marketing, advertising and e-learning.

    How to create a story?

    1. Come up with an idea

    The idea is the foundation of any e-learning course. It engages users, motivates them and gives meaning to the whole project. For example, you can explore company's history taking a fascinating journey into the past on a time machine or walking through interactive museum halls.

    2. Choose the character

    Users do not want just to receive the information. They want to hear about themselves, to feel and to experience emotions. Character gives them such an opportunity. By associating himself with the character, users experience success and failure and are actively engaged in the learning process.

    3. Write a storyboard

    Ever since Aristotle's era all dramatic works are built according to Freitag's pyramid. The narrative begins with the exposition, in which a certain conflict occurs. Then goes the rising of action which describes the events before the climax. After that there are the events that occur after the climax and the last one is resolution, which describes the end of the story where the conflicts or problems are solved. Use this structure for creating your storyboard and your learners will surely appreciate that.

    4. Make a conclusion

    Each fairy-tale must have a moral, the message to the audience telling how to act in order to succeed. Make clear and simple conclusion. Try to avoid ambiguity and irony.

    5. Use scenes from the real life

    The story which you're going to tell in e-course should be associated with reality. Of course, you can send users to explore sales in space or in ancient Greece, but you should be prepared for the fact that they will accept such learning as entertainment only and will not apply this knowledge in practice.

    Storytelling helps to present information in an interesting way, motivating students to learn. It could be used in almost any field of study, including the exact sciences. But if your audience is interested in getting the knowledge initially, the use of artificial drama loses its meaning. You should remember that storytelling is only one of many ways which help to organize the learning process. The use of it should prove its value according to goals of instructional design.

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