Learning Trends to Watch Out for in 2019

It is that time of year when we all take a pause and reflect on the year passing by and get ready to welcome the new one. My role as a Proposal Engineer at Harbinger Interactive Learning makes me stretch outside the norms and design interesting solutions for our customers. While looking back at 2018, I realized this year was unique in many ways. It challenged the eLearning stakeholders in many ways and got them out of their comfort zone. All these advancements have paved way for an even more exciting 2019.

Here are the trends I foresee for the upcoming year.

Instructional Design to Learning Experience Design

Instructional design seems to be gradually evolving into learning experience design. Instructional designers will now need to think beyond course instructional strategy, chunking content, and storyboard creation. Delivering learning content in newer ways based on learner behavior would be their new agenda. Applying instructional strategies for newer formats like chatbot, AR/VR, short animated videos, would be very different than applying them to an hour long course. Our instructional designers have already started experiencing this change. Have you?

Redefined eLearning Course Development and Design

The ideal duration of an eLearning course changed from an hour or two to about 30 minutes in the last few years. It would further dip down to 2-5 minute long modules. The delivery formats would now also include interactive infographics, AR content, and other such interesting forms. It implies that every course and every learning experience could be unique. This change would also form the premise for a huge transformation in the way eLearning content development units and L&D departments function, since they won’t be using the waterfall model to develop hundreds of hours of learning in the same format anymore.

eLearning Project Management Moves Agile

Agile project management practices have been around in software development cycle since ages. And they have been talked about for quite some time now in eLearning teams as well. With the type of variety in content being developed now, it would be a welcome to see agile project management in action here as well.

CLOs and Learning Directors Ready to Take Risks

In the past, for many of our proposals, we have been asked to put down the ROI for eLearning development in black and white. But in 2018, we saw that quite a few learning stake-holders were open to newer ideas, trying out different forms of learning content delivery, and not being hung upon the ROI. I don’t deny that ROI is important. And it would have to be asked one day. But, what is important is that stake-holders are ready to take risks. The parameters of ROI are being shifted from “number of hours of learning” to “performance improvement” of an employee in areas that matter. If a support desk employee can get a just-in-time learning nugget on how to fill a complex form and completes that form within record time and handle more support queries, the ROI is achieved.

Netflix-like Experiences in Learning

Today, no learner would like to login to an LMS to take up a course even if they have free time. But, if the same employee is on an internal portal browsing some content and there comes a learning nugget in the context of what they are surfing, there are high chances of them clicking on this learning nugget. And that is how learning would happen now: In-context and nudged based on user actions. A seemingly Netflix like experience where movies are recommended based on what the user watches and surfs. And the recommendations only become better with time.

Artificial Intelligence in Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made great advancements through the past few years and this year will mark its remarkable presence in L&D setup. AI is going to play a dual role here: Providing personalized experiences and learner evaluation through analytics.

AI-powered chatbots are currently being used to answer financial queries, provide customer support, diagnose healthcare issues, and even offer counselling on various topics. They are already starting to make an impact on education and corporate learning. Bots similar to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana could be developed to frontend a course and provide personalized learning experiences.  Besides delivering learning, a chatbot can also provide information about what people learn, how they learn, and what they need to learn. The data recorded from chatbot interactions can be analyzed to see what is being learned and when. It will also tell you what information is missing by recording the queries that it couldn’t respond to. This means that training can become more relevant and effective as it’s based on the demonstrable needs of employees rather the notional needs determined by L&D.

Interesting time lies ahead for the L&D function as some new learning and re-skilling looks to be the order of the year. Do you agree? Get immersed and enjoy the journey!

5 Essentials to Take Care of When Translating English Content to Asian Languages

More than 16% of the world’s population speaks one or the other Asian language. This implies a high probability of your eLearning localization projects including a lot of translations to Asian language. And as with any other language, translating English to any of the Asian languages has its own set of challenges. Let’s look at some of those.

Font Usage

When translating English to any other language, you need to pay special attention to the fonts you are using. This becomes specifically crucial for Asian language projects since their character sets and fonts are starkly different from English.

Cultural Differences

Asian Languages have many cultural nuances specific to each of them. This also implies that the level of formality used in the content or pronunciation for a specific word is different in an Asian language than what you would use in English. This has a direct impact on your project’s voice recording. You should ideally check with the client for any specific pronunciations before proceeding with the recording. Also check on the usage of right titles, salutations, or greetings beforehand.

Grammatical Differences

Because of different language origins, Asian languages are very different in basic grammar when compared to English. There are differences in syntax, genders, usage of verbs and adjectives. The right way to proceed with these is to engage native translator who could pick these out without an issue.

Image Recreation

When working on image recreation for specific languages, you might come across images that have content written on them. Try and refrain from modifying the original content and language on the image since such kind of recreation might have legal repercussions unless stated otherwise. Translate any content on the image and have it placed separately, preferably next to the image.

Glossary Development

Ensure that your translation vendor includes glossary development as a part of the services scope. Glossary development is an essential step in translation projects to ensure consistent translation and easy updates.

 

With their diverse varieties, Asian languages present many interesting challenges in translation. But overlooking even one of them can threaten the client relationship. Your translation projects need to be carefully managed to minimize risks. Instead of a regular storyboard, it is advisable to create a base document with the entire translation scope and seek the client’s approval on it to avoid any last-minute glitches. Also, as a best practice, before proceeding with closing on a translator, share multiple samples of translated content from different translators and seek client feedback on each of those. A native-level translator who understands the culture and its nuances is ideal. If this translator has also served a wide range of demographics, that’s a plus.

If you have faced any other challenges or follow some other workarounds while dealing with Asian language translations, we would want to learn about. Comment below or drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com.

Building Simulations in eLearning – Articulate Storyline Versus Adobe Captivate

The primary objective of delivering corporate learning is to develop skills that could be applied to the actual course of work in an organization. These skills could be best developed by ‘doing’ and ‘practicing’. Learning programs that let your employees’ practice a real life situation would help retain knowledge well and apply it effectively when the actual situation arises.  Simulation based training is a great way to do the same. Simulations let you re-create real life/workplace situations, and let employees sail through them without any potential threats.

Harbinger has been building simulation based training for many years now. We have serviced our customers with simulated information technology training, product training, business process, and customer service training. Multiple tools and technologies have been used to build these simulations. And if we come to shortlisting our favorites, Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate top the list. Both the tools are extremely user friendly and effective for building simulations. However, even between the two, each has its own set of strengths and limitations. If you are planning to develop simulation-based training, do have a look at the below comparison list and then make an informed choice.

Articulate Storyline Adobe Captivate
Storyline provides simulation capturing facility, however it creates the captured output in a video format. If client requirements change after capturing, it is difficult to do custom edits in the video. Captivate is ideal for capturing simulation screens. In an ideal scenario, you could also capture the single screenshot and integrate it in existing recording.
Storyline gives readymade triggers and multiple numbers of attempts for Try Me. But it does not give any readymade animations for Show Me. Captivate gives readymade triggers and multiple numbers of attempts for Try Me as well as Show Me.
Storyline creates a video at the base which is not editable and if we need to edit any screen in simulation or background then we need to rerecord entire video/session all over again. For Captivate it is easier to replace individual slide(s) and minimal textual edits can also be done easily.
Storyline does not allow a theme to be applied at the onset.

In storyline, we need to set properties of captions, highlights, and text on every slide.

In Captivate, we can set the theme for the project and the template for recording.

It is a one-time effort to set the style and process.

Storyline provides extensive controls in the GUI.

We can hide navigation elements and can also change the navigational element settings at slide level.

We can set linear/non-linear course navigation in Storyline. Also, we can get separate scrubber (seek bar) for each slide.

 

 

Captivate has minimal controls in the GUI.

We cannot hide navigation elements nor change the navigational element settings at slide level.

We can set linear/ non-linear course navigation in Captivate. To achieve this functionality, we need to customize the controls at the slide level.

But we cannot have separate scrubber for each slide. It is only applicable to the whole course.

Duplicating buttons and state-changes for objects is much easier with Storyline. Duplicating buttons is difficult when compared to Storyline.
Triggering functionality is much easier to implement in Storyline 2, as object names keep intact when you copy a slide in Storyline. Triggering functionality is not very strong in Captivate. When we duplicate the slide, we need to change every trigger in Captivate as objects lose their names.

Clearly, Captivate has an edge when it comes to building simulations. It is time-effective and requires lesser development efforts compared to Storyline. But the most optimum approach would be to create simulations in Captivate and then compile them in Storyline as a web object. However, this approach works only if your course is non-linear.

Hope the above comparison was comprehensive enough for you to make your choice. For any queries, reach out to us at info@harbingerlearning.com, or write a comment below.

 

This blog has been authored by Vijay Shete; with inputs from Shilpa Shindgikar and Vrunda Kollur.

Between Minds – A Creative Approach to Building Stories

 How often have you experienced a challenging situation or dilemma where you were thinking hard and eventually just wanted to bang your head against the wall? How did you deal with the situation?

Maybe you brainstormed, without even realizing it. Brainstorming is a relaxed, informal approach to problem solving that promotes lateral thinking. We, at Harbinger, run a program called ‘Between Minds’ based on the brainstorming approach. This is a cross-functional meeting that brings together the Instructional and Graphics Design teams with the core objective of promoting design thinking. Random cross-functional groups are formed for each session, and every time a session is conducted, we get to deal with a unique challenge and come out with a new perspective of looking at things.

In a recent Between Minds session, each group was given a phrase and the expectation was to build a story in the next thirty minutes. Colors and papers were provided, and all the teams used drawing as their tool for weaving their stories. The ultimate objective of this activity was to get the team members work on a critical timeline and come up with a solution, by using their lateral thinking and problem-solving capabilities, along with acknowledging difference of opinions.

Listed below are some stories that the groups came up with:

  • Phrase: Dr. Spark Invents Time Machine

time machine

This is the story of a scientist who invents the time machine post which he assumes any invention would be a cake walk for him. Hence, he further embarks on a journey of inventing telephone. Unfortunately, that turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life as he lands into an era where telephone was invented but not electricity. Thus, there is no power source to which he could connect his time machine and come back to the present. This strengthened the fact that we must keep things simple rather than complicating our journeys. The story also emphasizes on the importance of paying attention to details.

  •  Phrase: Age is Just a Number

age

Another interesting story that came from one team was about an old man and his little grandson. The grandfather, despite being old, is no less than the grandson when it comes to being mischievous and having fun. Both steal ice-cream, fight for the video-game, and love to play scrabble. This story highlighted the fact that if you are willing to do something, then age is just a number. It also beautified how two people separated by a huge age difference were so alike. This story had a sense of simplicity and an essence of nostalgia which took the audience back into the memory lanes of their childhood. It also taught us how simple things could make a big impact at times.

  • Phrase: A Dark and Stormy Night

stormy night (2)

Another interesting story was about a dark stormy night when a group of friends lose their way into the woods. They are wet and homeless, and upon finding a shelter, they enter it only to be confronted with spooky sounds. They hear the crying of a cat, squeaks of a baby and some smoke emerging from another room. Flashbacks of all the ghost stories read at leisure strike back indicating a definite possibility of a similar encounter. With a heavy heart and the possibility of coming across an evil spirit, they enter the other room to see a lady cooking food, in a corner of the room. Her baby is playing in the crib and a pet cat is crying in another corner. The story teaches us a lesson of not giving up on situations, and building presumptions about them, until you encounter them.

This session encouraged the teams to come up with the thoughts that, at first, seemed a bit crazy and quirky, but were then developed to build a story that went on to be appreciated by all present. The objective was not to reward or criticize ideas, as judgment stunts lateral thinking and also limits creativity. In a nutshell, it was a rejuvenating activity that pulled everyone out of their daily routine, and yet gave us some good problem-solving lessons, and a deeper insight into collaborating and working as a team to accomplish a common goal.

Do you also participate in any such sessions or activities? What are your favorite approaches to problem-solving? We would love to know your thoughts. Leave your comments below.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 – A Checklist to Get Started

Web Content Accesibility - Concept Image

Web accessibility indicates websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed in a way that people with disabilities can use them. The most recent guidelines for web accessibility are specified in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0[1]. US federal government had set a conformance deadline to WCAG as January 1, 2018. Accessible content is now no longer optional; it is a must-have.

Making content accessible usually requires taking care of some basic guidelines related to the navigation mechanism, and fixing some issues in the underlying code (which commonly don’t even count as issues on the regular visual screens). The basics of accessibility are fairly easy to implement. But if you are new to accessibility, it might take some time and effort to learn about them. Most mistakes related to implementing the accessibility guidelines have to do with a failure to understand what constitutes accessible content.

Based on our experience of developing multiple WCAG 2.0 compliant projects, here is a list of the most common issues that could make your content non-accessible, and a checklist to help you avoid them.

Common Issues Checklist to Avoid the Issues on The Left

1.  Too low contrast

2.  Color-driven instructions

3. Background colors that don’t contrast images against text

· Provide sufficient color contrast. Color contrast can be checked with help of free tools like Webaim-color contrast checker.

· The visual presentation of text and images of text has a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1.

· Ensure that information conveyed by color differences is also available in text.

4.  Lack of keyboard accessibility

5.  Lack of “skip to main content” or “skip navigation” Links

6. Complex or difficult interactivities

· Make each page navigable by keyboard alone.

· Add “skip to content” links to allow a user to jump directly to main content rather than navigating through all the controls.

·  Avoid complex interactivity design by chunking complex modules into simpler and smaller activities with required user instructions.

·  Provide keyboard operation for all the functionality of the page. When all functionality of content can be operated through a keyboard or keyboard interface, it can be operated by those with no vision as well as by those who use alternate keyboards or input devices.

7.  Missing or improper headings

8.  Flexibility with different text sizes

·  Use heading tags (H1, H2,…), table headings and lists (UL, LI).

·  Add a meaningful page title.

·  Ensure that content can be scaled uniformly by using a web technology (the browser’s zoom functionality for instance). At the same time ensure that, the zoom function preserves all spatial relationships on the page and that all functionality continues to be available.

9. Screens or parts of screens that change unexpectedly

10. Links that open unexpectedly in new windows

·  Avoid pop-up windows.

·  Allow pausing of animations.

·  User indication should be given when the focus is changing to the new window.

11.  Too many links or navigation items

12.   Links or buttons that do not make sense

·  Avoid “click here” link text. Describe the purpose of a link in the link text itself, instead of just saying “Click here”. For example, content that says, “Open the website www.harbingerlearning.com” instead of “click here.”

· Keep navigation consistent across all pages.

13. Inappropriate Alt attributes

14. Images with missing or improper descriptions (alt text)

·  Add alt text to images which describe the image. For example, an image showing a United States map with its population should have alt text as “Map of the United States showing population density in various states” instead of “an image” or “US Map” as alt text.

·  Add labels to form elements like buttons, links etc.

·  Use CSS for visual presentation of text. CSS benefits accessibility primarily by separating the document structure from presentation. By separating style from markup, developers can simplify and clean up the markup in their content, making it accessible at the same time.

Most organizations across the United States are now legally required to meet accessibility standards. But even if your organization doesn’t fall into that category, it’s still a good idea to make your digital content accessible, because it makes good business sense. It can help improve user experience and hence make your web content more effective.

If you are interested to know more about accessibility or if you have more points that can be added to the list above, feel free to write to us at info@harbingerlearning.com.

[1] https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/