e-Author Templates Save Time and Money
"Gillespie created custom, XML-driven, Flash-based e-learning templates that are exactly what we needed for our high-end e-learning courses. They listened to our needs and worked with us to customize the templates for our systems and designers. They save us time and money, and they look fantastic!"
-OCD Project Manager
Ortho Clinical Diagnostics
The Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics (OCD) Global Education & Technical Training team creates online and classroom training for an international audience of employees and customers.
The volume of material the OCD team designs and distributes, along with short development time frames, led the organization to initially choose Articulate Studio '09 software for rapid e-learning development. Some aspects of Articulate Studio worked well for the organization—including the speed at which training could be created and deployed, the easy-to-use interface, and the automated Flash programming—but some aspects of Articulate did not.
- With Articulate Presenter, Engage, and Quizmaker, instructional designers were limited in their design by program capabilities; e.g., image-size limitations in Engage interactions and the limited number of interactions available. The instructional design team also experienced multiple Articulate “bugs” that caused rework, especially when sharing files.
- Storyboards were created in Word with no easy way to import them into Articulate. If a change was made to a module once it was past the storyboard stage, an ID had to go back to the storyboard and make the same change to ensure the documents were always in sync.
- All text within a module is embedded in Articulate—and text from Presenter, Engage, and Quizmaker is maintained in separate files—so text could not easily be exported, adjusted, and imported back into the e-learning. This meant translation was difficult, time consuming, and expensive. It also meant the organization couldn't easily extract content for conversion to future technologies, such as HTML5.
- The large size of the deployed Articulate files could cause slow load times and delays for users in the field. Some files would not load for some users.
After struggling with these limitations for three years, the OCD Worldwide Training and Development team decided it needed an e-learning development solution that resolved these problems and streamlined the content development, programming, deployment, and translation processes. Additionally, they wanted to find a solution that would not be obsolete in the face of technology changes.
The organization conducted their own analysis and concluded that the only option was to hire a Flash programmer, or a team of programmers, that would be able to customize each e-learning page to meet their needs. This solution, however, would also significantly slow overall development and add programming costs.
Of course, a slow and expensive solution wasn't really much of a solution.
At this point, we stepped in to help the client develop a third option—one that that would combine the speed and cost-effectiveness of rapid e-learning development with the control of custom programming.
This solution would be designed to:
- Streamline the development process.
- Reduce translation costs.
- Improve the user experience.
- Open the door for future technology.
- Cost about the same as Articulate and other rapid-development software.
We worked closely with the OCD Global Education & Technical Training team to create customized, reusable templates that met their instructional design needs, from image size requirements to interactivity. Because flexibility and control is important, the shell can be changed at any time and adjusted for future projects.
During development, we closely adhered to the requirements of the design phase:
- To streamline the development process, we provided a familiar Word-based storyboard for ease of content development and subject-matter expert review; no one had to learn a new e-learning design program. The Word-based storyboard is automatically converted to XML, with no programming required. Conversion from XML to Flash is also automated, so development is rapid.
- We initially designed ten flexible Flash templates for the OCD instructional designers to use.
- To reduce translation costs, storyboards can be directly translated in Word, and foreign-language versions can be automatically programmed; no additional conversion or manual programming is required.
- To improve the user experience, the Flash templates standardize the graphic user interface (GUI) and provide a consistent and user-friendly experience. The templates also significantly reduce e-learning deployment file size and load time.
- To open the door to future technology, the Word storyboard is converted to XML, which is flexible and can work with other programs, such as HTML5.
- To control the cost of this customized solution, the expense comes in up front, with custom shell, storyboard, and template design, but there is virtually no programming cost.
Once the elements of the new rapid-design process were in place, the team ran conversion tests to ensure it worked as expected. Then, we introduced the OCD Global Education & Technical Training Instructional Designers to the new storyboard and provided training on its use.
As IDs began to build courses in the storyboards, the customized Flash templates were revisited; the original selection was refined based on real content and unforeseen needs.
When the team looked at the development, editing, and deployment workflow, they realized this process provides unexpected benefits:
- The storyboard review step could be eliminated because the Flash programming step is so quick and easy. Making reviewer changes to a finished e-learning module takes very little time, so training can be reviewed when it is fully programmed and functional.
- The storyboard is always up to date, which meets the client’s regulatory obligations to maintain current storyboards for all e-learning. This also prevents version-control problems.
After using the new and customized rapid-development solution for three months, the client pronounced the templates a huge success.
According to an OCD Project Manager, “This solution does everything we need it to do. We’ve turned all our instructional designers into high-end e-learning designers without having to provide hours and hours of training. Best of all, this solution provides significant savings. We expect these templates will reduce the cost of our overall translation process by two-thirds.”
An OCD Instructional Designer noted, “A secondary benefit of this solution is that the ID no longer has to take on the role of graphic designer, as with Articulate. The customized templates determine layout, color scheme, and training look and feel. This allows IDs to focus on what we do best: instructional design.”
The Gillespie Associates e-learning templates provide flexibility and endless options for customization, and they meets our customer’s stated needs.
- The entire e-learning development process is streamlined, and no manual Word-to-XML or XML-to-Flash programming is required.
- Translation costs are significantly (two-thirds) lower.
- GUI standardization and reduced file sizes improve the user experience.
- By providing all e-learning text in one place and XML formatted, content is now flexible and open to future technologies.
- The cost of this solution is comparable to rapid-development software.
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