Best PracticesProduction Tools

Tools to Aid in eLearning Authoring for Manufacturers

eLearning Developers – Expand Your Authoring Capabilities with these Tools

Popular eLearning platforms are fairly robust. But there are occasions when you need to break outside the built-in tools or seek additional resources. Here are a few references and tools that come in handy for an advanced eLearning developer.

Introducing the W3C
The W3C, or World Wide Web Consortium is the main international standards organization for the world wide web. This is where coding standards are gathered and agreed upon in order to ensure that your web-page or web-based eLearning program looks and functions the same across browsers. It is also a great reference for you, the developer.

For instance, before you even begin your eLearning program, you are likely to target the hardware platforms and browsers your users will be using to view your program. The W3C keeps up to date statistics on browser usage so that you can make the best decisions in this area. Find browser statistics at: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp

External HTML Objects
All the major eLearning platforms allow you to insert your own HTML. Since the output of your online eLearning project is likely to be HTML read by a browser, these external objects are simply additional customized HTML snippets (pieces of code) inserted into the page. The W3C has handy references for HTML tags and other languages for you to grab correct syntax from, or just learn about what is possible. For instance, if you would like to add an interactive graph or animation that goes beyond the capabilities of your authoring tool, it can be hand-coded as HTML, CSS and javascript and be added to an HTML object.

HTML reference http://www.w3schools.com/html/default.asp

CSS reference http://www.w3schools.com/cssref/

Animation
If you are somewhat skilled in coding HTML and javascript, you can develop advanced animation techniques to enhance the learning by creating code to add to an html object in your authoring platform. Examples of using animation in learning are: animated graphs, animating a manufacturing system or process, or anything more complex than a move or a fade.  Incorporate these advanced capabilities with helpful tools such as the Greensock Animation Platform. http://greensock.com/gsap

Debugging
Finally, when testing your course or an added piece of code, you might notice something doesn’t look right. For instance a color, a font-size, or the location or size of a graphic. In cases like this, the developer tools that come with most browsers can be useful. They are found in the menu of your browser of choice (in Chrome they are in More tools>Developer tools; Firefox uses an add-on called FireBug). When you open these tools, they enable you to click on anything on the page and view the html, css, and javascript that make up that element.

Use tools like these to enhance your eLearning authoring. They will make you more efficient, enhance your courses and help with troubleshooting. Don’t sit down to author without them!

Ron Trilling
Author of Learning Lines | Founder and Partner, at Media Dynamics
Ron is a great source of information when it comes to eLearning. He has a background in instructional design and has worked with many companies to help develop their eLearning content and courses.
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