Author Archives: becky

It Could Happen to You: Inadvertent Copyright Infringement

gavelI’ve posted before (5/31/12) on the need to be mindful of copyright and fair use when using material created by others. I was reminded of this again via a tweet I came across by @PublishingGuru Jason Rutherford (via @passivevoiceblg). The tweet linked to an excerpt from this article  by author Roni Loren Bloggers Beware: You Can Get Sued for Using Pics on Your Blog.

The title pretty much says it all. Ms. Loren inadvertently infringed on a photographer’s intellectual property. She’d posted one of his photos, found through a Google search, on her blog. Despite taking the picture down within minutes of being contacted by him, it was necessary to get lawyers involved in the situation.

view of courthouse and steps leading up to itYou can read “the rest of the story” here, where Ms. Loren also provides some insights on Fair Use and some tips on how to find and use photos that won’t get you into legal trouble!

Oh, and if you’re curious about the photos used in this post, they’re from one of my favorite sites, morgueFile. And here’s what the permissions say about the photos used here: You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a standalone manner.

Copyright and fair use: 2 important “eLements of eLearning.”

Fonts in eLearning

illustration of a blue pencil with letter A in uppercase and lowercase

Before you read any further – or if you’d rather not read – check out my 3-minute instructional video on Fonts in eLearning, where you can also learn a bit about using fonts in Microsoft® PowerPoint®.

There’s a LOT of information on the use of fonts as an eLearning element. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m overwhelmed by how much there is to know about fonts and typography. That’s probably because I’m not a graphic designer. So, if you’re looking for detailed information about typography design, feel free to move on to another post, like this one, which I discovered via a Mike Taylor tweet (@tmiket).

My goal is to provide some broad guidance on the use of fonts in eLearning design. To that end, I’m going to provide an example from Microsoft®. Many people disparage using their fonts in eLearning. One argument is that they’re overused. Since I haven’t done any research, I can’t confirm or refute that. But I can say that I find many of their combinations,  like the one in this screenshot,engaging and pleasing to my eye.
Image of PowerPoint Slide with text

Headings vs. Body Text

The slide in this screenshot (above) was created using the Newsprint design and font theme in PowerPoint®. The heading uses the Impact typeface, 49 points. Body text is in Times New Roman, 24 points. You can find this theme, and many more, by clicking the Design tab; change Fonts by clicking the Fonts drop-down arrow.

This theme adheres to the overall approach that most people agree upon: use one font for the headlines and another for the body text. In this case, the body font is a serif font; that is, there are little lines at the top and bottom of each character that purportedly help guide a reader’s eye. The headline font is sans serif, minus the “guiding lines.”

Serif or Sans and How Many Fonts?
By the way, there are many articles recommending that ONLY sans serif fonts be used for eLearning because they are easier to read in digital format than serif fonts. Ah, and now you’re beginning to see the complexities around this topic!

Typically, you should use no more than two fonts. Contrast can be achieved, as it’s done here, by changing scale and style. The body text is smaller; the heading text is larger and bolder.

More Resources
Check out Articulate® David Anderson’s (@elearning) Screenr (instructional video) on using scale, style, and color to create emphasis in eLearning content. And the eLearning coach (@elearningcoach) has an informative blog entitled What font should I use?

You can of course move beyond the fonts provided by Microsoft®. Do a web search and you’ll find gazillions (well, almost) of fonts, both free and for a fee.

Pencil Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Note: Microsoft and PowerPoint are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

Tooltips: Just in time eLearning eLements

Many “eLements of eLearning” are so subtle that we don’t even recognize them as such. Tooltips are a good example of that. As we move our mouse over image of what a tooltip might look likean element on a screen, more information about that item appears in a box. It might look something like this

When we move the mouse away from the item, the tooltip disappears.

In this way, a tooltip is a kind of “just-in-time” eLearning element. We need more information at a particular moment in time, get the information we need, and move on.

Tooltips can be used in a variety of ways, and I was recently inspired by a few discussions in the Articulate® community forums to think about how they might be used in an association’s organizational chart. The instructional video I’ve embedded here shows how to create a tooltip in Storyline®, since the community member specifically asked about that product. But tooltips can be created in a variety of products and applied in many different ways.

 

Script Writing Tip

As I mentioned in my first post (5/15/12), I plan to discuss a variety of “eLements of eLearning” in this blog. One of the elements, for some of us, is script writing.

I typically prepare a script ahead of time, and insert comments to myself. I type these in red, to separate them from the script itself. In this video, I describe how to create a macro in Microsoft® Word® that quickly removes these comments so a clean script can be sent along  to the client.

Proofreading

Many of us don’t himage of two hands holding a paper with typing on it - one hand is holding a penave the luxury of having copy editors to proof our work, and yet proofreading is really an important eLearning element.

I use a variety of methods when I proofread, but the one I wanted to share today involves listening rather than reading.

It’s really surprising to me – or maybe it shouldn’t be any longer – that I can re-read content several times and STILL miss an error here or there. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea to copy my text into a text-to-speech application and listen to it as it was “read” back to me. Inevitably when I’ve done this, I’ve picked up at least one (embarrassing) mistake.

Free Natural Reader
The application I usually use now is Natural Reader. There are different versions available here, including free, personal, professional, and ultimate.

Microsoft® Anna comes with the free version. If she’s reading too quickly, I can adjust her pace with the speed bar. There are also controls to stop, pause, and resume the playback. And I can rewind back to the previous sentence or fast forward to the next one.

By default, a yellow highlight appears around each “narrated” sentence and a blue square appears over each word as it is “read.”

There are many more features available in the Free Version, including a Floating Toolbar that eliminates the need to copy and paste the text. And of course, the versions that you pay for include even more options.

Other Free Text to Speech Tools
Recently a post appeared in my Twitter feed with a link to 10 Free Text to Speech Tools for Educators.

If you’re a Twitter user, you may want to follow the individuals who provided this link: @cpappas and @medkh9. Oh, and you can follow me at @refco27.

Copyright and Fair Use

Knowledge of copyright and fair use guidelines are an important element of eLearning. Many years ago I was asked to create and present a workshop on this topic by a client who said, tongue in cheek, “it seems people think ‘copy right’ means they have “the right to copy.”

Recently I was part of a discussion where I heard an echo of the most oft-repeated fallacy I’d heard many years ago: It’s OK to use someone else’s “stuff” if you’re not making money from it and/or if it’s only for classroom or internal use. Unfortunately, that’s not true. But you can find out what IS true with a little bit of research.

This is my favorite Copyright Website. You can find information on copyright and fair use and view examples of infringement in the movies, in music, and on the Web. (Interesting aside: Did you know George Harrison was sued for subconscious copyright infringement of “My Sweet Lord?” You can check it out here).

If you’re looking for more information, you may want to start with the U.S. Copyright Office.

As you read this information, you’ll see that, as with many things in life, nothing is clear cut. So, it’s often best to check with the originator of the work.

Copyright Blue Computer Key courtesy of Stuart Miles /FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Thank you to our men and women in the military

torso of person in military uniform

Many of us have a variety of happy activities planned for this Memorial Day weekend. In my own family we are celebrating a marriage and planning visits with out-of-town family.

Thank you to our veterans, and to the men and women who continue to sacrifice so that we may go about our lives, enjoying carefree times like these.

Magnification Graphic Tip for PowerPoint®

Microsoft® PowerPoint® is used a lot in eLearning. Some people love it, others, well, not so much. But that’s not for today’s post :-). Since it IS used a lot, it’s certainly one of the elements of eLearning.

A while back I was reading a blog by the eLearning Coach (@elearning coach) where she provided a great tip on creating a magnification graphic. She merged two photos, a zoomed out photo that showed “the big picture” of a catheter, and a zoomed in one showing the catheter tip. She suggested the photo editing she’d done might be doable in PowerPoint®, so I decided to give it a try. Sure enough, it worked like a charm. Watch the video at the top of this post to see how it’s done.

Oh, and if you’re interested in her original post, you can find it here.

Note: Microsoft and PowerPoint are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

And…Even More on Character States in Storyline®

A couple days ago (5/18/12), I created a post that included a Screenr (instructional video) showing how to create custom states for photographic characters in Articulate® Storyline®, specifically the character named Rhonda. In this post, I show how to set up objects “offstage” that automatically trigger Rhonda’s changing emotional states during her phone conversation.

More on States for Characters in Storyline®

In a yesterday’s post (5/18/12), I showed how to easily change a character’s emotional state over time in Articulate® Storyline®. And, I promised to demonstrate how to trigger those states automatically. Haven’t had a chance to do that yet, but thought you might be interested in this Screenr (video tutorial) by David Anderson, Community Manager at Articulate® (@elearning).

David discusses how to use Storyline® states to manage a series of your own industry- or workplace-specific photos to create custom character packs.

http://www.screenr.com/K3m8