Must-Have Tools for eLearning Developers

Must Have Tools for eLearning Developers

As the eLearning development industry constantly changes and clients demand more and more complex learning solutions, we are keeping track of new and exciting eLearning development tools. With the launch of Cluelabs cloud service, eLearning developers who work in Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate gained access to flexible widgets that can enhance and improve learning experiences. As of right now, designers and developers have access to the following eLearning widgets:

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This article will look at each Cluelabs widget in detail and will explain how those tools can be used in the development of your eLearning projects.

Google Sheets Export

This widget provides a non-LMS option to use Google Sheets for exporting and saving data entered by the learner or generated in the learning course. You can save and access all learning records from Google Sheets as well as pull data back into the course if needed. The ability to save records to Google Sheets provides a great way to have the data at your fingertips in a clean and easy-to-read format. You will connect your Sheets document first, and will then use triggers in Articulate Storyline or actions in Adobe Captivate to pass the data from the course to the spreadsheet.

Data Collection and Analysis

The data cloud widget makes it possible for any eLearning developer to quickly start collecting learning data that are either entered by the learners or is generated in the course of the learning session. While the idea of data collection is not new, up until now this required extensive programming and significant time investment. The Data Cloud widget makes the process of collecting the data accessible by a wide range of learning experience designers, elearning developers, and instructional designers by providing a simple way to add the data collection features to any learning module developed in Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate. Once enough data is collected, the stakeholders can use it to identify actionable insights on how the training can be made more effective, better align with the learning objectives, deliver more desirable outcomes, etc. This is a great tool for eLearning developers to get valuable insight into what happens once the course is deployed.

Instant Email Communication

With the email messaging enabled directly in the course, you have a new way to communicate with the learner as well as your team. Send out email messages whenever appropriate by simply using triggers in Articulate Storyline or actions in Adobe Captivate. You can send emails at any point in the course and without requiring the learner to perform any particular action to initiate the email. You can also use variables and input from the learners to generate the content for the email message. Examples of how you can use this widget include:

  • Offer learners to receive additional training resources by email
  • Notify managers when their staff make certain selections or provide responses
  • Let a team member know an employee has completed a course
  • Allow the learners to email the responses and commitments they share

Dynamic PDF FIles Generated in the Course

The PDF Maker widget provides a way to generate PDF files on the go as the learner takes the course. The widget uses the template you design beforehand, and can supplement the template data with the variables from the eLearning course. The learner can then download the generated PDF file from within the eLearning course. The file will contain the data specified. The PDF file can be generated in both Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate. The examples of the information that can be included in the PDF include:

  • The learner’s name 
  • The learner’s score
  • Answers the learner selected in the course
  • Actions and decisions the learner made in the course
  • Other eLearning course data as needed

There are multiple ways to use this widget, from generating the certificates of completion to providing customized job aids and handouts to the people who take your eLearning modules.

Dialog Builder

This interactive Dialog widget looks like a typical helpdesk agent avatar or a help button that you would normally see on any modern website. Clicking on the avatar opens up a chat window that allows the learner to click on prompts to “talk” to the avatar. The avatar responds to the learner’s requests and can also adjust course variables and run JavaScript code in response to the selections. You will start by building the dialog flow, defining prompts, actions, and responses, and saving the widget. After that, you can simply add your new dialog widget to the module with a simple JavaScript trigger in Articulate Storyline or JavaScript action in Adobe Captivate. There are endless situations where this widget can provide an invaluable support to the learners. Here are a few examples:

  • Add an assistant that will offer help with navigation and user interface
  • Use the avatar to quiz the learner on the training content
  • Provide additional learning content and resources through chat
  • Use the dialog to make the learning process feel more social

Location-based eLearning

The location widget determines the geographic location of the learner, parses the data, and returns the location to the Storyline or Captivate module in a form of a set of variables. The module that uses a location widget will receive the following data: City (e.g. “Newark”), Region or State (e.g. “New Jersey”), Country (e.g. “US”), Zip or Postal Code (e.g. “07101”).
Once you have the learner’s location in the module, you can adjust the training path and the learning content accordingly. It is often the case in the legal and compliance training that learners in different US States receive different content based on their geographic location. If you use the location widget to determine the State, you can, therefore, make changes to the presentation without asking for the input from the learner. Additionally, the business processes in many companies may vary from one location to another. With the location widget by Cluelabs, any eLearning developer can create flexible learning courses that, once deployed, take into consideration the learner’s physical location and present only relevant training content.

Leaderboard or High Scores Widget

The leaderboard widget is one of our favorite eLearning development tools. It provides a quick and easy way to add a leaderboard to any eLearning course produced in Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate. In a nutshell, a Cluelabs leaderboard is simply a table of scores (or other numerical data) with corresponding names (or other text data) saved in the database with the capability to add new records as well as to sort existing records as needed.
There are many reasons for a learning experience designer to want to add a leaderboard to the course. It’s been proven over and over again that the learners pay more attention and generally try to do better when they know that the score they’ll receive at the end of the module will be made public. There are two major driving factors for this behavior: competition (the learners will try to get as high on the leaderboard as they can) and public image (the learners want to look smart and competent). Luckily, a Cluelabs leaderboard can support both of these drivers. If you are trying to foster competition among the learners, create a numerically sorted leaderboard with the higher scores on top, and encourage all participants to try to claim the top spot. If you want to encourage accountability among all learners, you can create a leaderboard that simply displays the most recent entries on top, pushing the older records down. This way, each learner will enjoy their 15 seconds of fame on the leaderboard.

Timer Widget

The timer widget makes it easy to add gamification features to any eLearning project. While the concept behind a timer is simple – it just counts the time up or down, the possible application areas are numerous. For example, learning experience designers can easily gamify any learning content by adding a timer, points, and a leaderboard. Gamification is about more than just playing games (in fact, sometimes it does not involve playing games at all). It can be defined as the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications. The benefits of using gamification eleaments in eLearning include:

  • Ability to capture and retains learners’ attention
  • Make learning challenging and interesting
  • Engage and entertaine the learners
  • Teach skills in real-time
  • Prompt behavioral change
  • Provide a better learning experience

More importantly, in a gamified environment, learners don’t have to deal with the stress that can be associated with learning, because they are too busy having fun and enjoying the eLearning course.

Dynamic Text Labels Widget

The dynamic text labels widget is a helpful elearning development tool that allows eLearning developers to replace text in the learning module without the actual process of editing the module itself. This means no publishing, uploading, or re-distributing of the published files is required as well. The widget achieves this by pulling the text from the database, passing it into the variables, and displaying the contents of the variables on the slides. So when the text in the database changes, the text displayed on the slides also changes.
This widget becomes particularly useful when it comes to data that changes frequently. For example, think about having to place the contact details of the union representative on a slide in the module. If the contact information changes, you will have to open the source file, update the text, publish the module, then replace the published files in all locations where you normally save your modules. However, if you use the Cluelabs dynamic text labels widget, all you will need to do is update the widget data using the Stencil editor, and the changes will be pushed through to the learning modules.

Custom List Widget

The custom list widget is very similar in the functionality to the leaderboard / high scores widget. The main difference is that while the leaderboard widget renders as a sorted table, the custom list widget reads all the table entries into the variables inside a learning module built in Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate. This means that the learning experience designer will need to take a few extra steps to display the data, i.e. place the references to the variables on the slides and style the text. But this also means that the content can be styled and designed in unique ways beyond the standard grid look. Aside from this, the rest of the functionality of this widget is similar to the leaderboard (entries can be sorted according to the widget settings, or the newest entries can be displayed first).

Chart or Graph

The chart or graph widget allows generating colorful dynamic charts inside the learning module. The types of the charts currently available are pie chart, 3D pie chart, donut chart, horizontal bar chart, vertical bar chart, and line chart. The data for the chart comes from the variables inside the learning module. The values of these variables are passed to the widget that renders the chart. The developers can fully customize the chart design. This includes selecting the colors of each segment of the chart or graph, setting dimensions, providing captions, etc.

Comparison Chart

The comparison chart widget is similar in functionality to the single chart widget, but it displays data in clusters, allowing for easy grouping and comparison. The users can create charts such as the column charts, stacked columns, bar charts, stacked bars, line graphs with sharp angles, line graphs with the angles smoothed out, dashed line graphs, and area charts. Similar to the single chart, the comparison chart can also be styled accordingly to the project needs, company style guide, etc.

Custom Progress Bar

The custom progress bar widget works with both Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate and makes it possible to further customize the way the course looks. The progress bar can be controlled using simple JavaScript triggers in Articulate Storyline or actions in Adobe Captivate. It is possible to show the progress bar on some slides and hide it on other slides, which is great because this provides a way to customize how each slide looks. What’s even more exciting is that Storyline users can link a variable to the progress bar. So whenever the variable value changes, the progress bar will update automatically.

Full Screen Mode

There are so many great things elearning developers can do with the full screen mode widget. As the name of the tool suggests, the widget allows switching presentation to a full-screen mode. This means hiding the browser buttons and menus, the address bar, Windows taskbar, etc., and maximizing the display to show slide content in full screen. Switching between full screen and normal mode occurs with the help of a one-line trigger/action. How developers apply this widget will depend largely on the training goals, but, overall, this is a great way to highlight learning content and avoid distractions.

Custom Storyline 360 Player Colors

The Storyline 360 Modern Player Custom Colors widget allows customizing the player colors in Storyline. Everyone loves the modern player, but many projects require more color customization beyond the standard light and dark themes. With the SL360 Custom Player, developers have the ability to set the colors as they wish. This allows to further align the training with the branding guidelines, make courses stand out, provide a better visual match between the player and the content, etc.

In this article, we’ve covered the following eLearning development tools offered by Cluelabs: Data Cloud, PDF Maker, Location, Leaderboard, Timer, Dynamic Text Labels, Custom List, Single Chart or Graph, Comparison Chart, Custom Progress Bar, Full Screen Mode, Custom Player for Storyline 360. If you are an eLearning developer or a learning experience designer interested in staying up-to-date in the eLearning field, feel free to experiment with these widgets to find ways to make them work for you and the unique needs of your organization.

Cloud computing and cloud-based services have revolutionized the way we do business. This is true across the board and in all industries. The industry of educational technology has not been immune to this trend. With the introduction of cloud-based services such as Cluelabs and Articulate Rise, for example, eLearning developers and learning experience designers have been enjoying the benefits of a cloud as well as additional ways to author and publish content. And we are seeing more great eLearning development tools being introduced to the T&D ecosystem.

What services have recently revolutionized the industry of educational technology?

Cloud computing and cloud-based services have revolutionized the industry of educational technology.

What benefits offered by the cloud have the eLearning developers and learning experience designers been enjoying?

With the introduction of cloud-based services such as Articulate Rise, for example, eLearning developers and learning experience designers have been enjoying the benefits of a cloud-based authoring as well as additional ways to design and publish content.

What major launch did the eLearning industry witness recently?

The eLearning industry witnessed the major launch of Cluelabs cloud service for eLearning, particularly the widgets that any eLearning developer can use to enhance their courses.

What eLearning widgets can the designers and developers use?

– Data Cloud
– PDF Maker
– Dialog
– Custom Progress Bar
– Location
– Leaderboard
– Timer
– Dynamic Text Labels
– Custom List
– Single Chart or Graph
– Comparison Chart
– Full-Screen Mode
– Custom Storyline 360 Player

What is the difference between Custom List widget and Leaderboard widget?

The Leaderboard widget renders as a sorted table, while the custom list widget reads all the table entries into the variables inside a learning module that is built in Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate.

eLearning Company Blog | March 6, 2019