Creating Fully Accessible Resources from PowerPoint

MASK Model - 6 Points of View

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) had the foresight to capture critical information from their experienced employees. They used a technique called MASK (Method for Analyzing and Structuring Knowledge) creating knowledge books for bituminous, concrete repair, and the engineering of bridges.

The end result of MASK is a PowerPoint organizing the text, images, and videos in a single, very large file. Historically MASK has been used for very proprietary information such as the French Atomic Energy Commission and the formulas and processes for KRAFT Foods. So, the size of the file was not as critical.

However, the MnDOT wanted to make their knowledge available to the inspectors and local engineers out in the field as well as on the MnDOT website. Each Knowledge Book averaged 300 slides and took up almost one gig of space. The PowerPoint files couldn’t be conveniently viewed on a phone or tablet and they weren’t accessible to people with disabilities.

We decided to convert the PowerPoint slides into a web-based presentation using Articulate Storyline 360. This not only met MnDOT’s requirements but added features such as interactivity and basic animations.

Here is a screen shot from the original Concrete Repair Knowledge Book:

Here is the same information using Articulate 360. (Click on the image to view the interactive page.)

Notice how the dense PowerPoint text was converted by chunking the content into two hot tabs, focusing the reader’s attention. Information common to both hot tabs can be easily displayed using the base layer.

Benefits of the Converted Knowledge Books

Here is a list of some of the benefits we’ve gained using Articulate Storyline:

  • Content is completely interactive and can be published on the web. (Published Storyline files are encrypted so changes cannot be maliciously made to the presentation.)
  • Content is responsive. It can be viewed on a smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer.
  • Content is accessible. Videos include closed captioning and graphics include alternative text for screen readers.
  • Animation can be used to demonstrate key principles.

Workflow Bonus

As each knowledge book was being converted we used Review 360 (part of the Storyline suite) to communicate any changes or modifications to each page. Content experts at MnDOT could view the current version of the knowledge book, using a hidden URL. Review 360 automatically made a screenshot of the page they were viewing. Even people who aren’t comfortable using new software found Review 360 easy to use.

There are two main screens in Review 360. Here is the main Review view:

Review 360 Review Page

This is the Feedback view showing the discussion thread for each edit:

Review 360 made the editing process smooth and efficient for both the content experts and the developer.


You can learn more about the MASK methodology at KRAFT Foods here.

The MnDOT Newsline February 2019 includes an article describing the knowledge books at MnDOT.

Mike Leegard created this presentation showing how MnDOT uses MASK to create their knowledge books.

Parson Problems for Interactive Assessment

Example of a Parson Problem

In his blog, Mark Guzdial highlights Parson’s Problems offer the same learning gains as writing or fixing code. Mark highlights how useful Parson’s Problems can be for interactive learning modules.

Not Just Computer Science

The article emphasizes how useful Parson Problems can be for computer science. Many other fields use this same type of learning instruction. For example, a healthcare module might use this technique to ensure students learn specific steps for procedures like taking a person’s blood pressure or drawing blood.

Increasing the Challenge with Distractors

To increase the challenge to students, add distractors. Instead of one-to-one answers, add extra items not critical to the process.

Try a Parson Problem Yourself!

Here is a sample Parson Puzzle. Students can check their learning after finishing the tutorial on using CSS Flexbox.  The tutorial shows the code with examples. This puzzle summarizes the content midway through the tutorial. Notice the distractors.

You may not be familiar with Flexbox coding, so here is a screenshot of the correct order 😉

Flexbox answer to Parson ProblemFor more details, read the original study, Parson’s Programming Puzzles: A Fun and Effective Learning Tool for First Programming Courses by Dale Parsons and Patricia Haden.

This sample Parson Puzzle was created using Articulate Storyline 360.

Articulate Storyline 360 – Highlights

I use Articulate Storyline 360 with Amanda Bell, another instructional designer. This is the newest version of Articulate. The software is now more cloud-based and it is very well designed.

I thought it would be helpful to others to see a list of the features that Amanda and I really appreciate and use on a regular basis.

 


 

Articulate Storyline Tools

  • Allows fast development with a very professional look and feel.
  • Everything is responsive automatically, works on all devices
  • Three development tools for different levels of development:
    • Basic: Studio 360 Converts Powerpoint to a stand-alone tutorial
    • Intermediate: Rise – Quick module development
    • Advanced: Storyline 360 – a detailed development environment for very interactive and branching tutorials. Interactive slides created in 360 can easily be included inside of a Rise module.

The interface between all these tools is very consistent and fluid.

 

Other Development Tools

  • Peek – Records screencasts similar to Camtasia and Storyline 360 has this feature built-in.
  • Publishing a course involves the click of a single button and finished modules run on any device.
  • Content Library
    • Contains 1,000’s of public domain images, with instant search and automatic accreditation to the copyright owners
    • Hundreds of characters, each having 20+ different poses and expressions – a click away. A wide diversity of people and occupations are represented. This collection is continually growing.
    • Images, illustrations, and icon are immediately available for all types of training situations
    • Templates for quizzes, click and drag, scenarios, and whole presentations. For everything. These are very professional looking and designed to be customized with any content.
    • Modern Fonts – Nine built into Rise and Articulate 360 with the ability to add custom fonts making font choice unlimited.
  • Articulate Review allows detailed collaboration between developers and stakeholders with version control.
  • Text-to-Speech is built in – Blocks of onscreen text can be immediately converted to voice and can be used to match various character avatars. This is a vast improvement over separately recording individual voice-overs and maintaining all those sound files. The speech is life-like.
  • Video Enhancement with Q/A Options Any video included in a module can automatically include questions throughout, making them much more interactive.
  • Interactive Tutorials from Screencasts A screencast demonstration can be automatically converted into a step-by-step simulation with the click of a button.

 

The Articulate Storyline Community

  • Articulate has a huge community of thousands of active eLearning developers.
  • The ability for course developers (and stakeholders) to work together using the Articulate Review.
  • Very extensive online tutorials and training.
    • These are short and concise (less than 5 minutes).
    • Weekly emails with examples and tutorials from Articulate and other developers.
    • Regular challenges published showing how other developers solve eLearning problems.
    • Articulate Live – Live webinars with eLearning experts. New ones available every few days.

 

Use Articulate Storyline to Increase Student Interaction

  • Easy-to-implement branching with feedback based on student’s decisions
  • Easy-to-implement click-and-drag screens with a wide variety of templates to build on.
  • Interactive objects including buttons, sliders, dials, hotspots, input, and click markers
  • Gamification easy to set up using Articulate templates
  • Scenarios, timelines, process, tabs, and related content can all be built using existing templates.

 

Use Articulate Storyline to Assess Student Learning

  • Multiple templates for self-grading quizzes for fast development
  • Ability to add assessment questions inside of videos
  • Link graded quizzes to an LMS
  • Controlled questions for branching
  • Customize feedback for each student interaction.

The Articulate ecosystem allows the developer to focus on the content, not on the mechanizations.

 


 

If you have access to Storyline 360, check out the automated step-by-step tutorials that you can easily make from screen capture videos. Here is a three-part tutorial showing all the details. https://community.articulate.com/series/107/articles/articulate-storyline-360-tutorial-how-to-create-interactive-simulations

Building your digital story, one digital block at a time…..

By Paul Wasko

Image of DS106 Assignment Bank pageMany educators are beginning to explore digital storytelling as an assessment methodology within their courses or programs.   The ideas behind “digital storytelling” are not new and began to emerge in the later part of the

20th century. (If you are interested, the Center for Digital Storytelling has a brief history at  http://storycenter.org/history ).

As the former director of eFolioMinnesota, I am very interested in the use of digital portfolios to support digital storytelling efforts.

What is new in digital storytelling are the tools students and educators can use to author their digital content.  

Historically, digital authoring tools often involved some knowledge of HTML commands.  However, with today’s online tools, creating a simple photoshow is straightforward using tools like http://Flickr.com.

So, if digital storytelling tools have become accessible to the average digitally literate student/educator then why are we not seeing digital storytelling emerge in classes throughout our education community?  The reason: the tools might be simple but we still have to figure out how to apply and use them. This takes practice and knowledge. (I know how to use a hammer but I still couldn’t build a house on my own.).

Helping you and your student’s proficiency using several different story-telling tools is a goal of the University of Mary Washington’s DS106 open class (http://ds106.us/ ).

For educators, an especially useful component of the course is the Assignment Bank.  The course author’s have done a wonderful job pulling together assignments that build proficiency with a variety of web-based authoring tools and services.

For example, check out “Your Favorite Teams Mashup” assignment in the “Mashup” section. The instructions for the assignment are as follows::

“Combine the logos of two or more of your favorite sports teams. Don’t just create an image with the two logos next to each other! Make the final logo look natural and cohesive.”

For educators, consider using some of these assignments as a way to build student proficiency.  It is a fun, straightforward way to help us return to the art of storytelling in the 21st century.

Note that not every assignment is appropropriate for all age groups so K-12 teachers may want to modify the assignment based on their grade level.

Special thanks to my friend and colleague John Ittelson, author of Documenting Learning with ePortfolios, for introducing me to DS106.

Peg Legg and Sal A. Mander

Often you may find the need to populate a course with sample users so your students can log onto a course and experiment around.

Having sample users is also a great solution for demo courses when you want to allow students to experience hands-on a specific technique.

I discovered a fun list of names at http://www.ethanwiner.com/funnames.html. Many of them are very inappropriate for a lab situation, but I was able to cull about 25 very safe ones from the list.

Here are a few examples: Missy Sippy, Peg Legg, Marshall Law, Mary Christmas, and Sal A. Mander.

Course Design Philosophy

Externsteine rock formation in Horn-Bad Meinberg, GermanyAs I develop more and more online courses I’m starting to fine-tune my design philosophy. How do these bullet points fit with your own experience?

Overall

  • Have a clear path for the learner to follow.
  • Strive for deeper learning.
  • Focus on the learning, not the technology.
  • Be platform independent whenever possible.
  • Utilize open source frameworks
  • Create adaptable content for both mobile and desktop devices.
  • Pluralize your content. Present the same information in multiple formats for maximum learning.
  • Always nudge your students’ learning up to the next level of Bloom’s taxonomy.

Presentation of Material

  • Incorporate short video (3-4 minutes) with sound and closed-captioning.
  • Written materials must be presented in an interesting manner.
  • Create succinct checklists for future fast reference and re-learning.
  • Edit, edit, edit. Be Hemingway by removing all extra words, phrases, and explanations.

Utilize the Writer’s Craft

  • Create suspense
  • Be clear and organized
  • Use scenarios, creating memorable and personable “characters” that the learner can identify with.
  • Overlap information in a kind and gentle manner.
  • Follow the Hero’s Journey pattern  established by Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and incorporated by George Lucas, director of Star Wars.

Listen Closely to Your Students

  • Their questions tell you where you need clarity.
  • Their observations or ideas can be used to enhance the content.
  • Ask for their feedback near the end of the course.  What worked? What didn’t. What should I change? Take notes!
  • Throughout the course, highlight changes you’ve made to the course as a result of previous student input.

Designing Social Interfaces

Patterns for Improving the User Experience

 

 

Patterns. They are so useful because we design things to do similar tasks over and over. Like a login screen. This book is filled with best practices and patterns on how to create a great user interface.

I first heard about this book while listening to a podcast with Christian Crumlish, Erin Malone, and Jared Spool as they discussed UX (User Experience). They talked about use patterns and how these can be applied over and over for a better user experience as part of the User Interface Engineering podcast series.

Christian and Erin have written a very readable volume that is indispensable for anyone creating software, especially if it is a social-based web application.

Each pattern has colorful examples describing the what, when, how, why as well as accessibility issues to be aware of, related patterns, and a list of example web sites. There are lots and lots of excellent screen shots showing how the pattern is used out on the Web that flow in and out of the text just at the right times.

The authors also include several anti-patterns: things that don’t enhance the user’s experience. These are just as valuable as the useful patterns. As you read about each anti-pattern you’ll say “Yes, I find that so irritating when ‘they’ do that.”

Other experts have been invited to the party as well and each chapter is interspersed with short articles that go into greater depth.

This information could be SO dry, and it originally was, but Christian threw out the first two versions and wrote the finished book in a talkative, friendly, fun-to-read manner.

I’m enjoying the read and am already using this as a reference as I talk with people about their web sites and what they want to accomplish.