Dec 18, 2006

Breeze 5 and Flash Player 9

With the BMS-wide rollout of Flash Player 9, you may experience problems with Breeze 5 presentations recently created.

Here is the issue, reason and solution as stated from Adobe:

There is an issue for users who have both Breeze Presenter and Adobe Flash Player 9 installed on their machines. When attempting to create Breeze Presentations with embedded Flash content the content does not display properly.

The issue occurs because of a Flash Player component registration change that is inconsistent with previous naming conventions.

With Flash Player versions up to Flash Player 8, the Shockwave ActiveX container was identified as "ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.1."

With Flash Player 9 this is now identified as "ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.9." Since Breeze Presenter is looking for "ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.1" it does not expect or recognize the new naming convention, thus publishing is not successful.

Engineering has created a DLL that fixes the problem, which will be rolled into a Presenter update in the next version of Breeze.

To address this issue before the next release follow these steps to install the DLL.

  1. Download the the correct DLL from
  2. Browse to the C:\Program Files\Macromedia\Breeze 5 folder.
  3. Find the ppt2swf.dll file and rename the file to pp2swf.old
  4. Unzip the file downloaded file and place the file in the C:\Program Files\Macromedia\Breeze 5 folder.
  5. Republish any Breeze Presentations that contain SWF files.

Dec 15, 2006

Rapid e-Learning Grows Up

Rapid e-Learning tools such as Breeze, Captivate and Articulate were made to take the developer out of developing online training modules. But as these tools become easier, it allows anyone to click a few buttons, enter in some text and ta-dah... instant online training module.

We all remember the web sites of those who just got a WYSIWYG HTML editor; the blinking text, numerous font styles, horrid patterned backgrounds. Just because the tools were there, it doesn't make one a web designer.

Joe Fournier writes in his article "Rapid e-Learning Grows Up", SMEs and Intructional Designers should form partnerships to produce more effective learning with rapid e-learning tools.
Subject matter experts many times don’t know how to teach; they just know their subject...The SMEs may produce the source content—in PowerPoint or Office format—but that base material gets greatly enhanced when a professional instructional designer adds interactions and edits the material.

10 Damaging E-learning Myths

I came upon this article and immediately found it relevant to what was discussed recently. The clients frequently dictate what they think should be included in the training -- regardless of what a task / needs analysis says.

The ten myths listed in the article are all worth investigating, but the first three deserve front page recognition.
  • Volume = value. E-learning tends to be priced in terms of hours of learning content produced. The problem is that value is becoming equated with volume of content rather than the degree to which a solution meets the training need.
  • We are producing content. Many customers still approach suppliers with the question, "How much will it cost to turn this content into e-learning?" It doesn´t matter how much quality content is produced if it doesn´t lead to a change in learner knowledge, attitudes or behaviour.
  • We must include all of the content. Customers frequently seem to believe that it is their duty to cram as much content as is possible within an e-learning programme. They don´t seem to realise that displaying content offers no guarantee that it will be understood, recalled and used in the workplace.

This list could be used to educate clients as they impact the outcome of our work considerably.

The argument for templates

One of the responses to the LSS Employee Satisfaction Survey is that learning templates and procedures are highly requested. This article says that all e-learning should be templated.
The most common way that e-learning developers try to keep costs down – other than using cheap labour offshore – is through template systems and libraries. The idea is simple: by having re-usable components of various sorts, e-learning can be produced quickly, at reasonable cost, at established quality levels.

The article goes on to list 4 principles to create an effective template strategy:
  • Templates must exist, and interact, at different levels of scale.
  • Templates must support every part of the design and development process.
  • Templates must be based on sound theories of learning, and of learning design.
  • Templates must be designed to accumulate knowledge around them.

The article sums up with "e-learning should be almost entirely templated, An effective templating strategy will result in better e-learning, happier learners and clients and lower cost production."

SCORM Answered

AICC, SCORM, XML... it all sounds like alphabet soup, right?

Well, we should be paying more attention to what these acronyms mean.

Let's start with SCORM (since it was the first one I found online.)

In a nutshell, SCORM is a set of specifications for developing, packaging and delivering high-quality education and training materials whenever and wherever they are needed. SCORM-compliant courses leverage course development investments by ensuring that compliant courses are "RAID:"
  • Reusable: easily modified and used by different development tools,
  • Accessible: can be searched and made available as needed by both learners and content developers,
  • Interoperable: operates across a wide variety of hardware, operating systems and web browsers, and
  • Durable: does not require significant modifications with new versions of system software.
For more information, you can take an online course. Click on the "Lessons" menu item and follow the steps to register -- it's free.

This lesson discusses:

  • The history, goals and current organization of ADL,
  • The rationale for the SCORM specification (why do we need this),
  • The alphabet soup of this world (the acronyms), and
  • The ADL guidelines for developing online content.

Dec 8, 2006

Five ways to reduce PowerPoint Overload

It's inevitable. PowerPoint will be used to deliver the training message. And with so much information to be delivered, slides are often over run with text. You don't have to fall victim to this problem.

Cliff Atkinson's article "Five ways to reduce PowerPoint Overload" provides guidelines to keep the presentations more effective.
  1. Write a clear headline that explains the main idea of every slide.
  2. Break up your story into digestible bites.
  3. Reduce visual load by moving text off screen and narrating the content.
  4. Use visuals with your words instead of words alone.
  5. Remove every element that does not support the main idea.

Yes, I'm sure you've heard it all before. But this is a good article for you to keep around to remind you.

P.S. In case you want even more proof, check out the top ten slide tips. My favorite tip? Number 4 - Use high quality graphics.

Article: "Making e-Learning More Fun"

Just the thought of sitting through another Breeze presentation to learn about some financial accounting policy can make any busy employee cringe. But that doesn't have to be the case.

In the US, e-learning has taken on the approach that in order for it to be effective, it must be effective and any fun is considered a distraction. Well the article I'm showcasing today says that's all wrong.

Learning providers need to make learning fit the way people work rather than insisting on it being a totally separate function. If we make it more enjoyable, so it is memorable and engaging, then it's likely to be more effective.

David Thomas' article 'Making e-Learning More Fun' is an interesting read. He asks the question, "If fun, pleasure and stimulation are so important for learning, then why is so much e-learning so dull?" Even boring subjects like financial accounting can be made more effective if we leave out the over-done pages and pages of text. How many times did they have to do that in school?

Adult learners bring their whole lifetime of experience to any learning situation, so we need to think in terms of problem solving rather than just content. If the learning is relevant to them, they will be far more willing to learn.

Dec 5, 2006

Spice up training with stock photos

Frustrated trying to find good images to use in your presentations?

There are now 439 more professional photos available for your use. These stock photos were purchased from Getty Images and contain numerous business, computer, and concept images.

You can find them at I:\Sharedoc\_iStockPhotos

Dec 1, 2006

Authenticating Breeze presentations

Letting Plateau know when someone has completed a Breeze presentation is easy. With a simple Flash insert and an addition to some HTML code, you can create a seamless way for users to authenticate a Breeze presentation.

The files and instructional document can be found on the shared drive at
I:\LSS_ALL\CWD\New Prod Dev Archive\

First, take the file PlateauComplete.swf and insert it on the last page of the PowerPoint presentation. Don't put it directly on the stage or strange code will appear when published. Instead, drag the SWF file to the side, off the stage, and it will be included. Then publish your presentation.

A file index.html will be created. Open up an HTML editor and make one change to the file. Add the following line of code right before the ‹/body› tag:

‹iframe id="postFrame" name="postFrame" style="display: none"›‹/iframe›

That's it!


Training Examples

I came across these demos of online training and thought it would be interesting to share. They incorporate audio/video and use real-life scenarios to help explain the topic.

Midi Demos

(If you're asked to log in, you can use my BMS email address)