Top 25 Learning Management Systems

I love the eLearning Brothers. First, I love their name (they really are brothers!), their look, and their style. Their branding is seamless, tight-knit, and does not waiver or change. Plus, they keep an updated blog and their free templates are totally worth a look-through.

This blog post is from October of last year, but it is so relevant every day! The Top 10 Articulate Storyline Games of the Year make me smile because they prove that eLearning is fun and games are NOT just for kids. However, I’m noticing that the KISS method is applied here, generously. Especially if you’re taking handfuls of time and energy to develop something so engaging. In my line of work, these engaging and playful tools are never mandatory (aka they do not count as a grade if you play around with it) and always supplemental.

Think about using these games if you fall into a hairy situation like I did in my last course! In this project management course, students have to take a final exam that is 10% of their final grade. It sounds small, but that 10% can make or break a student who needs a 70% or above to pass.

For studying purposes, they had their textbook and two pages of sample multiple choice questions at the end of each chapter.

a) If I am a student, I’m grazing over those question/answer pages as fast as possible. Why? The answers are on the same page…my eyes dart RIGHT to that answer key and it’s all over.

b) As a graduate student, I have a full-time job, possibly a family. Do I have time to read and take notes on every little detail of my textbook reading this week? Probably not…will my studying habits falter? You bet!

c) Regardless of what I’m doing as a graduate student, I am in need of immediate feedback. Once I get that immediate feedback and I’m not correct, I need immediate information to replace my misunderstanding of the right answer and actually absorb the correct information!

That’s why I made these:

Easy breezy PowerPoints quizzes narrated by yours truly. They live on Office Mix, however guess what feature is lacking in the playback and interactivity? The clicky COLORS! :

Office Mix said that with their new updated software that the slideshow of any Mix shown within PowerPoint would be the exact replica that you would find living in Office Mix cyberspace…(fourth bullet from the top)

They are wrong! You cannot click triggered boxes to make them change colors UNLESS you created identical slides that link to the clickable boxes. Those identical slides would need to have color differentiation. Too many slides, too much linking, too much wasted time. I was NOT about to add 40 more slides to each PPT. Baloney. 

Needless to say, I gave students the ability to download the presentations so they will be able to preview them on their computer and take the interactive quizzes themselves. Oh, and did I mention I made 13 of them? 10 questions each! Yippee!

All in all, Storyline would have been a better match for my needs. Lesson learned!

The Sway Way

SocialMedia_Logo_Sway_400x400x32If you have Microsoft 365, you have Sway. And it’s awesome.

Is Sway® going to replace PowerPoint®? No
Is Sway® better than PowerPoint®? No
Is Sway® worth the effort? YES YES and YES!

Sway is like if PowerPoint® and Instagram got together and had a little adorable, mostly easy-going, but sometimes stubborn, child.

Sway is something else on its own. You tell a story with Sway. With just a little wiggle-room for creativity, Sway builds your pictures, text, and social media into a collage of awesomeness. If you’ve got a bunch of stuff to upload and you don’t mind an algorithmic display, Sway is the way to go.

So many video tutorials and a suggestion box make this program incredibly easy to use. I would say if you’re going to use it for the first time, play with it THEN view a tutorial.

Thumbs Up

  • Preset designs make me feel like someone else is in control of how my Sway looks – this is good because I can spend HOURS trying to figure out what colors and fonts go well together
  • Accessibility built RIGHT IN! How cool!!
  • Easy – no true learning curve here. Everything you’d like to do is drag and drop
  • Super duper easy to collaborate with others!
  • Fancy shmancy privacy and sharing settings
    • Did I mention the embed feature?? ^^
  • Instant save/Instant update – Cloud storage is the best. It’s kind of scary to not have to worry about a save button! For us and our LMS it’s great because wherever the SWAY lives it updates instantaneously – no more having to go back into copies of courses and adjusting any edits that need to be made!
  • Pretty tech savvy-looking without the coding. This will make your presentation just a bit more enticing- may give it the edge you need.

Thumbs Down

  • Images from Bing and Flickr  could be removed in an instant – I would suggest not including those kinds of photos in your Sway
    • If you do, down/upload them and insert – make sure to get your permissions!
  • The only social media site you can embed is Twitter, and you cannot embed a live feed, just single tweets
    • Apparently they’re “working on” adding social media sites to their catalog
  • Small vs Medium vs Large – Design needs tweaking
    • Any media ‘card’ can be placed on the Sway but the way it falls may not be as cute as an IG picstitch.
    • If you’re picky about how a presentation looks, Sway is not for you. If you’re easy going, make that Sway!

Office Mix: Trials and Tribulations

office-mix-stacked-logoHere is my sincere review of the new plug-in for PowerPoint® – Office Mix.

Good lordy loo, where do I begin? First, if you’re not sure about what I’m talking about, please add this plug-in to your already existing software and play around with it. You can get started with some small projects by viewing these tutorials. Oh, and if you forgo reading this entire blog post, and you come across a super problem, it probably isn’t your mistake or your computer but an error or issue with Office Mix that is preventing your I_love_cats.pptx from not working as a Mix.

There’s a saying somewhere that describes lazy people being the best workers, simply because they’ll find a workaround to anything to get the job done fast. Alright. If you mix super lazy, speedy fast and accurate task-completer, and über-ly meticulous professional together… you’ve got me. Let me explain…

The Beginning

Everyone and their brother use Articulate Storyline. Fresh out of IDD school and I come to find out they taught me ZERO about software. I was picked and plopped in front of my desk without any Storyline experience whatsoever.  Luckily, I am a super fast learner and all around awesome person so it doesn’t really matter ;).

During my first month of being an IDDer, I had a grand opportunity to take training courses and learn anything I wanted! My mind exploded! Then, all of a sudden I had my first course and needed to learn the basics before I could add my own creativity. That first course came out as basic as a mocha frappuccino; served its purpose, super generic, yet delicious.

Next came my second course – I teetered back and forth: How do I add some interactivity in here? Well if I create an interactive component I need to make sure that I have time to complete it before the course is due- let’s start with something small!

Baby Steps

A very basic presentation of content was created. Students had the opportunity to choose one of two final projects for the course. I showcased the overview of each type of projects and the components associated in a spider web form of instruction. It was cool, hip, and easy. Right? A different way to access information instead of a document? Great! I’m done!

Yeah right…Woopty do…

It just wasn’t enough sparkle and pizzaz for my crazy-filled brain that just wanted more, more, and more!

So then this whole big craze about Office Mix swept my office. My director is so excited about it that he’s actually piloting a few of us to push it in our March courses for use by our SMEs and students. Others feel like it’s just another presentation tool.

Let’s get to the review, please!

Do you know PowerPoint® like the back of your hand? Awesome.
Are you willing to narrate or use video recording to relay information in an interactive way? Great.
Are you incredibly patient? Hmm
Do you have a tablet and stylus? Me either…

Pros

  1. Great if you want a narrative walk-through of a presentation, similar to a .ppsx
    • Gives the narrator the ability actually to record their own video via webcam or use screenshot abilities – similar to drawing on a SMARTboard in front of a class.
  2. Your Mix lives in cyberspace
    • LOVE the idea of updating a “file” that lives on the internet because it will instantly update wherever!
    • I think Office Mix is stepping towards this idea of cloud storage (MS 365) that everyone is super gung-ho about (including me)
  3. FREE
    • No explanation needed
  4. EASY
    • Depending on who you ask. But no really, easy as pie. Very small learning curve if any.
  5. FAST and POLITE customer service
    • I actually received a response from a rep at Microsoft who is the leader in the Mix department – fast, friendly, and answered my question without a condescending attitude! Rock on!

Cons

  1. Big huge con for what I needed to do: No ability to record audio files and “slide record” while triggering my transitions.
        • Mix says, “You cannot record on this slide because there is another media file present.” What on EARTH?! This is such a simple thing! The makers of Mix totally did this on purpose too, especially since there is a little disclaimer!
        • So you know what I had to do?? Live record every slide and silently press my spacebar as I came to each trigger word in my speech so the content would show as I presented it. I know it sounds petty, but this was a big deal as I value chunking in these types of presentation. It took a lot more planning from my side, but looking on the bright side: I had developed a transcript without knowing I needed to make one for accessibility purposes! Score!
          • I tested it out before I threw away the idea: I created an audio file of narration. Then, what I inserted it onto a slide. I wanted to screen record while the audio played and as I heard key words I would tab through my transitions of making content appear. Oh, noooo I couldn’t!
        • Check this out –this first slide with the Venn diagram took me an hour to 1) read correctly 2) and trigger correctly  ALL in one take. That’s a waste of time.
  2. Cannot make a Mix with hidden slides
    • What if I wanted to make a trivia game?  Learners can see all of the slides! No fun at all!
      • It’s like seeing your Christmas presents under the stairs in the linen closet when you’re 12 years old, and you shouldn’t believe in Santa, but you kind of do, but you know it’s wrong and you just want to magic to stay alive forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (me)

ProCon

  1. Mark-up on screen recording.
    • While helpful and useful to point out important information, you better have a tablet and a stylus unless you don’t mind being messy. I don’t know about you, but my mouse capabilities are not as pretty as I’d like them to be. If I needed to write out a mathematical equation, you bet I willtype out each line of the equation before I write it with my mouse and marker on the screen recorder.

The Nitty Gritty

I like Office Mix. A lot of my colleagues do not. I know exactly why: They know there’s better software out there. The problem is my time was limited. My time may continue to be limited and I will not mind continuing to use Mix as long as I need to. There’s a lot Mix developers need to do, and they know there is a need for them to get a new update up and running quickly.

Another Sample Mix for your viewing pleasure!

I’m out