Entering the 2010 Articulate Guru Awards this year was not in my sights initially. Right after the announcement back in May, I was asked by several folks if I was entering. First thought was “no,” I’m too busy. Then just after our families summer vacation in July, I was encouraged again to re-consider.
With a passive sort of attitude I decided I would enter, but like many folks all of my work with Articulate is proprietary to to my workplace. So I had to come up with an independent idea, concept, theme, etc. If I was going to do this, not only did I want to present a subject that is neutral and one that just about anyone could relate to, but also to push myself to go BIG!
But first I needed to define the project and decided to hold myself to few clear objectives:
- Build a complex branching game-like scenario.
- Build a course using the Articulate Studio ’09 suite of tools incorporating each tool at least once.
- Prove one person can design and develop a showcase course.
- Develop ALL graphics within PowerPoint.
- Only acquire supporting images from royalty free sources.
- Only acquire sound effects and music loops from royalty free sources.
- Only acquire custom fonts from royalty free sources.
- No custom Flash. All animation in PowerPoint
- Document EVERYTHING!
- Debunk the myth that eLearning has to be built in other tools.
Okay, so I have few objectives but I still didn’t have a clue what to build. Then one afternoon while despising the thought of doing yard work and mowing my lawn I got to thinking (nothing else to do while mowing an acre of grass) … “Who’s big idea was it to have a manicured lawn anyway?!” If you think about it, grass is the most useless crop! It doesn’t “do” anything but look good. That’s it! I’ll do an eLearning course on grass (turfgrass as the industry refers to it).
I had the topic, now I needed a theme. As I was mowing that afternoon (I think a lot when I mow), I noticed a couple neighbors doing the same thing…mowing their lawns. It’s like we were riding around in our little lawn tractor tanks on the battlefield fighting the enemy – tall grass and weeds. Each of us has different variations of tractor models, tools, and equipment, and each of your yards are different landscapes. That’s when the theme came to me…
The premise is you (the learner) have been hand-selected to be on a joint forces team on a mission to recon and gather intelligence through a typical American neighborhood. You mission consists of four objectives:
- Types of Grass
- Types of Weeds
- Tools & Equipment
- Lawn Care & Maintenance.
With the concept and subject in mind, I needed a theme. That was simple and obvious – make it have a military look at feel with graphics, sound effects, and narration. That wasn’t enough though…I wanted to make it fun, engaging, almost game-like. I also wanted the first screen to be a “WOW! factor” that would pull you in so fast that you couldn’t wait to hit the next button!
In the coming weeks I intend on writing about lessons learned and offer some tutorials on not only how I did some of the effects, but also many of the processes I developed and new practices I discovered along the way. I have a whole list of topics I want to write about, but here are the first ten on the list:
- Managing your project and project files.
- Storyboarding is not just a document…it’s a process.
- Supporting documents that help guide the work flow.
- Prototyping is king!
- Massive button factory in PowerPoint
- Big Project? Build & test in chunks.
- Importing an .flv movie with independent player controls.
- Quizmaker hide & seek image shuffle
- Adding a background playlist, sound effects, video, audio narration, synched animation…all on the same slide!
- A little thing I like to call “Spider Branching.”
Looking back, there are a hundred different ways I would approach this project again or one similar. There are a few things I don’t like about it while there are a few things I really like. All in all it challenged me, forced me out of my comfort zone, and I learned a lot about the eLearning development process and of course the Articulate Studio ’09 tools.
Hope you enjoy looking at it as much as I had building it! [click the image or link below to launch]
Note: For those of you who have been patiently waiting for the third and fourth tutorial posts on how to build your own custom Articulate player, I promise those two are first on the list before diving into the above series. I do apologize for the delay as this guru project has consumed the last couple months of my time.