Month: April 2014

What do you do?

Last week David Anderson pulled out an internet meme I hadn’t seen in a while – that one where you say what your friends and your mom and society think you do – for the weekly E-Learning Heroes challenge.  There were lots of good posts; be sure to check them out. A few resounding themes were magic and some form of blank stares. It’s certainly clear that a lot of us have friends and colleagues who are clueless about how we spend our professional time.

This week’s challenge was a bit of a follow on.  David asked us to show what we really do by creating an eLearning resume or portfolio, and sharing a template if we were willing.

I did both and was asked to create a screencast about how to customize the interactive resume/portfolio template I created. Rather than also writing about it, I thought I’d just share that video with y’all.

So without further ado, here you go!


Side note: I actually created this template for my own use.  You can get idea of what I really do by checking out my personalized version.

If you have any questions about using this template, feel free to comment below or get in touch from the contact page.


Don’t Be a Thieving Jerk

As a blogger and eLearning developer I am hyper aware of what media and resources I am
using. I am sure many of you are as well. There is a narrow balance beam to walk between
being a thieving jerk online and being so paranoid you have to create everything from scratch. Between social media, Google Images, and lots of free repositories, it can be hard to know when you’ve fallen into the thieving jerk side of things.

Lucky for all of us, last night I attended a wonderful event held by the ASTD DC Metro chapter (you should really join your local ASTD chapter for resources such as these).   A real life copyright attorney, Leigh Winstead from Odin Feldman Pittleman, was there to answer all of our questions on this insanely complicated topic.  Ok, so not all of our questions… she tried valiantly but we could have had her there well past midnight.

The one clear YES

There is only one sure rule with copyright: if you get permission, you are in the clear. Everything else is a grey area.  But there are some guidelines you can use to determine if you are making a good decision.

Fair use

To use some legal jargon for a sec, U.S. Copyright law states that, even if you are using an entire copy of a work, “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

“YAY!”, every trainer ever yells from the rooftops. “I can use anything I want in a class!”

But wait, not so fast.

Unlike, say, a public school, we are (hopefully) profiting off of our trainings.  There are actually several factors that help determine a case, because why would the law be easy to understand? Leigh provided us with these handy-dandy tips to make things a little less murky. Don’t worry… I got permission.

Factors Influencing Fair Use

Yay!  🙂

Boo!   😦

Your purpose

Nonprofit uses, criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, research, parody Commercial activity, profit or entertainment
Nature of the copyrighted work Factual, nonfiction, educational Fiction or highly creative

How much is used

– Small portion, non-significant portion, or what is appropriate for educational purposes
– Work transformed or altered
– Large portion, the entire work, or a piece that is central to the copyrighted work
– Work reproduced identically

Effect on the market

– Will not take away any potential market/earnings from the creator
– No or only a few copies made
– Might take away any potential market/earnings from the creator
– Numerous copies or posted publicly


Got it Don’t got it

If you’re still nervous like me

Keep in mind that if creative work is not copyrighted, it can still be covered under copyright law.  However, the law won’t have any teeth – that is, they can’t sue you. That doesn’t mean you should be a thieving jerk though.

Also remember that ideas can not be copyrighted.  However, once they are put into writing, a drawing or some other tangible form, that work can be copyrighted.

Some helpful resources

  • Creative Commons is a non-profit organization dedicated to making creative works more sharable while protecting their creators. It is an insanely great resource for learning more about copyright, copyrighting your materials, and finding stuff you can use.  Sites such as Flickr, You Tube and Google Images make use of Creative Commons licensing.
  • Google images has an advanced search tool that lets you filter by license. To apply that filter, you first need to search for your image, then go to the settings widget and click advanced search. You can then filter by “usage rights”.  You will need to determine which option here is right for you.
adv search


  •  The Internet Archive is a non-profit internet library that is great for finding stuff that is in the public domain or copyrighted but available to use.  It utilizes the Creative Commons licensing as well. It can take a little work to find what you need here but it has some real gems, especially if you are looking for things like historic speeches.
  • The Articulate Community has a lot of free resources that their staff and users have
    submitted.  I have used several in my work!
  • You may consider a subscription to eLearning Brothers or another site with a large
    media library that meets your needs.  Just be sure to familiarize yourself with their terms of usage (preferably before you purchase a subscription).
  • EDIT: A friend of mine reminded me about Wikipedia Commons, another great source for images, sounds and video.

Phew.  I hope you found this as helpful as I did!  Questions, comments, clarifications?  Leave them below!


I am very excited to have the honor of presenting on a panel at ASTD ICE 2014 in a few weeks! The panel, Differentiate Yourself: Why a Master’s or PhD Matters and How to Complete One, will be moderated by Nandi Shareef.  It’s geared towards anyone considering an advanced degree in ISD or a related field. I know there are a lot of folks out there that are curious and considering, so this should be an interesting discussion.  If you’re in that target audience, I hope you can make it.

ASTD 2014 ICE RegistrationIf you’re unable to attend the entire conference but are in the DC metro area, consider purchasing a one day pass.  They are much cheaper than a full conference pass.  Also, the ASTD Metro DC chapter is looking for members to register as a group for a discounted rate. If you’re not in the DC area and would like some insider information on pursuing an advanced degree in the field feel free to contact me at any time for my lengthy list of pros and cons.


In other ASTD news, I attended a great program last night put on by the Metro DC chapter on copyright for trainers. I’ll be blogging about that today or tomorrow, with some tips from a real life copyright lawyer, so keep your eyes peeled.


Hover Craft

Last week I shared my top 10 Storyline Hacks (or creative workarounds as David Anderson & the Articulate staff prefer them to be called).  This week, I’d like to share how I created some of the fun hover animations on both that project and on the Mission Possible project.

Hover Basics

If you are new to or unfamiliar with Storyline, one feature you should get to know is the ability to add states to objects.  There are several built in states, one of which is “Hover”.  Basically, if you add this state to an object it will appear whenever the mouse is hovered over the object.  You can make the Hover state do almost anything including changing the look, adding sound and creating animation.  All these actions can come in handy for communicating directions to users, giving feedback or providing other support.

newstate    hover


Visual Changes

Here are some of my favorite visual changes from the Top 10 Hacks project. Note that all of them had some kind of visual change, plus the addition of a word describing the change and corresponding hack.


Randomize is just a simple text change.  The Normal state has the text “{}  []  ||”  and the Hover state has the text “RANDOM  []  ||  {}  IZE”.  Yep.  That’s it.

random_1      randomize



This effect was a simple change in the fill of the object from solid black to a striped pattern.  You can access these additional fill options by going to format shape.  You are able to fill your shape with a pattern, gradient, built in texture, or picture that you import.  Basically, you can fill it with anything.



scratch_1      scratch


Slide & Scroll

These two are the same… and not the same.  In both, a left to right scroll is imitated, but they were achieved in different ways.  In Scroll, the scroll bar is an image that is flipped in the Hover state.  In Slide, the white circle is simply moved from one end of the slide to the other in the Hover state.

slide_1     slide


scroll_1     scroll



There are two ways to hide an object in the Hover state.  If it is an object created in Storyline, you can recolor it to match the background or make it transparent. If it is more complicated, like an imported picture, you can always delete the object from the Hover state.  Interestingly, you can also delete the object from the Normal state so that it appears when you hover.

hide_1      hide



Adding animation to a Hover state is quick and easy, but there is one trick to it: You can’t animate the objects copied from Normal state to Hover state.  Let me explain.

When you create a new Hover state for an object it automatically copies the object over.  You can then edit this object, delete it, add captions and other objects into the Hover state.  Anything that is added can be animated.  For example, in the Zoom animation, the large star burst shape is added to the rectangle’s Hover state so that shape can be animated to grow as it enters.



If you want to animate the original object, you will need to delete or hide the original and then recreate, or paste in a copy of, that object.  This is what I did in the Loop example for the arc.  In addition, the word “LOOP” fades in.



Audio Changes

The Mission Possible project had a lot of sound effects attached to the Hover states.  The computer turns on, things are written in a notebook, a calendar page flips, a door squeaks open; it was a lot of fun to make.

Just like with animation, this is an easy way to add some interesting audio to a project. All you have to do is insert your sound file while editing the Hover state.  Really – it’s that easy!

Note that the sound will play only while the mouse is hovering over that object.  It will then stop and start over the next time the mouse passes over. If you want to change the way the audio reacts to hovering you can instead add a trigger, and the audio, to the slide.  Your options for this are:

  • Audio plays on hover and does not stop (add a trigger to play the audio when the state of the object is equal to hover, do not add a trigger to pause or stop the audio)
  • Audio plays on hover, pauses when not hovering, and resumes from where it left off on the next hover (add a trigger to play when state is hover, add a second trigger to pause audio when the state of the object is not equal to hover)
  • Audio plays on hover, stops when not hovering, and starts from beginning on next hover – this is the same as it would act if you add audio to the hover state (add a trigger to play when state is hover, add a second trigger to stop audio when the state of the object is not equal to hover)


This is really just scratching the surface of what you can do with the Hover state in Storyline. What fun things would you like to create?  How have you used the built in states in an interesting way?  Share in the comments!



My Top 10 Storyline Hacks

I am very excited about this week’s Articulate eLearning Challenge – create a top 10 list of resources and tutorials for Storyline development.  This will be a list I will definitely bookmark!

For my own contribution, I decided to put together a list of my favorite Storyline hacks because hacks are both fun and useful!  This is a list of actions you can make happen in Storyline with just some clever uses of the tried and true built in elements. I integrated some screenrs, articulate forum pages, and a shameless plug to my blog into a little story.  Be sure to check it out as there are some fun hover state actions.



More details on each of the steps are available below.  Have fun!

Storyline make it easy to have a panel that scrolls vertically.  And with a little magic, you can also make one that scrolls horizontally.

Fake it till you make it, right?

Closed captioning is always a great feature to have, especially if you have a large diverse audience and need to consider such things, but it can easily clutter the screen.  This is a great way to use variables to lessen that clutter.

Check out this lovely thread in the Articulate forums for more info on creating a scratch off interaction.  There are so many possibilities here!

I love zoom regions but wish they were interactive, that you could click on an area to trigger a zoom.  So, here’s a shameless plug: I recently blogged about this very thing!

Want to include a news banner or other continuous motion?  Here’s how you can do that.

You can build in some randomization by using JavaScript code, or using a question bank.

Drag and drops are pretty easy to make, but what if you want your user to drag something along a predetermined path, like a slider?  It’s easier than you think.  Hint: they aren’t actually dragging it!

Something I miss since my switch from Captivate is the ability to attach a pause function to any object.  Good news – there is an easy work around!

The Articulate Word of Mouth blog has an awesome list of resources for creating custom drag and drop interactions. But I think knowing how to make a dropped object disappear is an important (and easy!) trick.