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Working towards #Articulate guru status…

August 11, 2010

… is still a long way off for me (aaah, the thought of sipping fine e-learning cocktails with the finest dudes and dudesses in the #Articulate community … that will be the life!) but I am surely enjoying the journey! I therefore thought about putting together something for this year’s Articulate Guru competition to see what happens. The surprising thing is that the WHAT has already happened in a way: I feel I’ve learnt so much, played with so many cool tools and generally increased my personal appreciation for the #Articulate community manifold, that I am already super happy, chilled, and smiling like … a very chilled smiley 🙂

It all started with a strong intention of my submission to be meaningful, but also as much fun as I could make it. So I settled on the idea of telling people what I’m about, more or less.

For that I needed a story, so I started storyboarding the whole thing – lots of individual post-its and bits of paper all over my house (so cool that my wife is super understanding). One idea per post-it, arrange and rearrange until the story makes sense but was also short enough not to be boring. I wanted a bit of fun, so I built in two individual branching scenarios within the story – they both converge in two common story components, but I like variety and appreciate some people may be naughty, while others may be nice (so I tried to cater for both 🙂 Bring in some unexpected characters to keep people interested (well, have I? You’ll tell me, I hope ;).

My story will be about a not-very-good-e-learning-package who realises it’s not great, so sets off to find someone able to give it a makeover, looks in many places but can’t find what he’s looking for, and ends up talking to the (friendly) mafia about this cool guy @suchadrag.

Initially I had quite a few more ideas than the final implementation, so I also started looking around for the tools to create them with. I thus finally upgraded to Office 2010 (PowerPoint improved image handling and generally better products – LOVE OneNote nowadays… 😉 but I digress) Thanks to everyone’s help on Screenr, as well as all the blogs and Twitter feed, I think I might have finally learned how to use PowerPoint properly for complex animations. 🙂 I also got myself some very cool plug-ins from @onEnterFrame’s website – cheers for that.

At first I was going to do all the characters’ voices myself, but when looking at Alina’s face taking in my idea, I had the choice of doing it anyway and sounding rubbish, not doing it at all and being a bit silent, or looking for some decent text to speech software (because folks are more likely to put up with them being a bit rubbish); no option to hire voice artists at this stage I’m afraid. I was to learn something new as I got further in my search, because in fact the current text-to-speech software is actually quite good (as I documented in my previous post). Also, it’s quite impressive what sound editing applications can do (various echo filters depending on where you’d like to have been, hiss and noise reduction, multitrack production, I am loving them all).

I also needed some graphics and because I currently only have one full functioning hand and am using a tablet PC to compensate, I saw a perfect opportunity to learn two draw a little. In the end I didn’t do much learning, but I sure did a lot of drawing, most of which went into the recycle bin, but some of which made it into the Articulate presentation. In a few cases I also used some clipart (I know, I know — hangs head in shame ;)).

As for the intro bit and letting users know how to work the resource, I contemplated an Engage interaction to show the interface, but as this was meant to be a story and a little game at the same time, I thought Dragster would be ideal. It would allow me to tell users a lot more about the characters in the story while (hopefully) engaging them with the story right from the start and looking fun.

As I was saying, I never would have thought this would be so useful and also so much fun. Lots of cookies and nice things to the Articulate crew for organising it and for keeping together this brill community (who deserve their own cookies and nice things :-)) Let me know what you reckon and I’d like to thank you in advance for spending time giving me your thoughts. Above all, have fun 🙂

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