Can you build a course in 15 minutes? (and free Articulate Templates)

Posted by Michael Culligan, LINGOs

The other night I saw a Geico advertisement that touted “this commercial was made in only 15 minutes!” 

Sure, the commercial is kitschy, but 15 minutes!   This got me thinking, could I develop a course in 15 minutes?   Well you could argue that a commercial is a lot different than a course.  The concepts in television commercials are so simple.  The messages are designed to be very short.  Wouldn’t learning topics require different mechanisms than those of a television commercial?

Not necessarily, just this week I discovered a You Tube video that employs the  same software Geico used (try it free at )  to critique the  “quantitative easing” policy recently introduced by the Federal Reserve. Talk about a boring topic!  It is complex, convoluted, arcane and technical.   And yet, the video takes this very polarizing and complicated topic and puts it into a format that keeps people engaged for seven minutes. While you might disagree with the critique presented in the video (and many do), focus on the fact that the developers have successfully developed a rapid, inexpensive communication mechanism that has already been shared with nearly 3 million people!

A recent post on the Articulate community site examines ways the videos created by XtraNormal can be used in the e-learning context.  The video’s author shows viewers how to embed XtraNormal videos  into her elearning course.  She uses the videos to simulate conversations between co-workers, providing  scenario based conversations for e-learning.   Clearly,  this is a technology that has many weaknesses, but it is yet another example of the directions in which technology is moving to make rapid e-learning a more accessible and less expensive option for everyone.

AND NOW FOR THE FREE TEMPLATES: The XtraNormal software product is one example of a great resource I learned about via Tom Kuhlmann’s Rapid e-Learning Blog (I highly recommend you all sign up for his e-mails.) Another great example of resources I learned about through the blog is a set of Articulate Presenter templates that is available for free until January 1st. Learn more about these free course templates. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the screen to find the link to the free templates. You will need your Articulate Rapid eLearning Studio license key to receive the templates.


Using voices from afar to lead virtual journal clubs

Guest Blog Post By Bill Powell,PhD, RN, FNP
Manager & Senior Advisor, Clinical Affairs at Ipas

Keeping up-to-date with ever-evolving scientific literature is a challenge for staff in many health-related agencies. For global health agencies, ensuring that staff members are interpreting the literature and applying it to their work is further complicated by distance, time zones, variable backgrounds, perspectives and context. One way we have addressed these challenges at Ipas is by offering virtual journal clubs.

Dr. Sangeeta Batra leading an international journal club from India

Several years ago, Ipas  initiated a Journal Club as a face to face meeting of interested staff, to review recent literature in our field. The topics vary from a focus on a specific clinical question to more general topics, such as quality improvement. Our staff from around the world was encouraged to participate by calling in Journal club creates an opportunity to share recent lessons from the literature, discuss the impact new evidence will have on our program strategies, and keep staff up-to-date with emerging trends in the reproductive-health field. Over time, Journal Club has evolved to a virtual event, held about six times a year, over the Elluminate Live! Platform provided through LINGOs membership.

Dr. Talemoh Dah engages with global colleagues from Nigeria over the Elluminate Live! platform

While Ipas has staff in 14 countries, North Carolina-based staff have largely facilitated Journal club during its first years. However, over the past year or so, colleagues from our offices in the developing world have facilitated three of the journal clubs. We believe this is one way to decentralize knowledge sharing, build collegial relationships and increase interest in the journal clubs, while drawing on and highlighting the expertise of our staff around the world. So far, two sessions have been led by colleagues from Nigeria, and one session by a colleague in India.
Each of these sessions has been well received and well attended. Although we have not officially evaluated these sessions, informal feedback affirms that people appreciate hearing from country-based facilitators and enjoy the chance to interact internationally over Elluminate. Likewise, the three facilitators have reported satisfaction and pride in leading the sessions and are interested in doing it again.

Dr. Sikiratu Kailani facilitated a journal club from Nigeria

• In one of the Nigeria-led sessions, the facilitator was unable to maintain an internet/Elluminate connection; the session moderator (in North Carolina) had to improvise and lead the discussion.

 Always have a second person at a different site prepped and ready to lead the session in case there are connectivity issues.

• Staff members are busy and proper preparation for a journal club takes time.

 Work with the country team’s management to ensure dedicated time for the facilitator to prepare and lead the session.

• Country-based staff members are not actively seeking to lead these sessions. This may be due to the time and workload issues, or lack of confidence with either the article’s content or the Elluminate technology.

 Be intentional in matching content with potential facilitators and their context, or ask them to suggest articles.
 Work with the country-based facilitator in prepping/editing slides for the session.
 Have at least one person on the live session with moderator privileges to manage Elluminate so that the facilitator can focus on content.
 Organize Elluminate sessions whenever visiting country offices for trouble shooting, modeling and practice.

• Because our global staff work in many different time zones, it is difficult to find a common time when every country office can participate.

 Offer two sessions of the same journal club in order to accommodate various time zones. For example, we usually offer one session for the participants from the US, Latin America, and Africa, and then offer a second session which includes the US support staff, the presenter, and participants from Asia.