1. Read the FlexTraining Management Guides
If you have not already done so, read the FlexTraining Management
Guide and, if you purchased FlexAuthoring, read the FlexAuthoring
Guide, as well. These are provided with the FlexTraining software
in hard-copy form and will answer most all your potential questions
about what you can do in FlexTraining. In addition, review the
remainder of this Content Strategies section and the FlexTraining help
2. Utilize the FlexTraining Authoring Tools
FlexTraining comes with an integrated content authoring tool that
lets you build individual learning screens that you can then group
into lessons as you assemble your courses. This authoring tool
comes with four basic built-in templates, and if you also purchased
FlexAuthoring, you will have over 20 templates to choose from.
You do not have to use the built-in authoring tool. You can
simply assemble your PowerPoint shows, Flash movies, PDF files or web
pages into online courses, and FlexTraining will provide tracking and
navigation. Many customers have launched successful training
projects and operated in this manner for years.
However, using the authoring tool, or FlexAuthoring, gives you
another level of control and interactivity. It provides more
robust navigation and more detailed bookmarking for student progress.
It also lets you create content from the ground up without requiring
any knowledge of HTML or web page development.
3. Interactivity Reinforces Learning
Instructional designers tell us that the key to knowledge transfer
and retention is interactivity. If a student interacts with an
online course, rather than just viewing it, he will retain the
There are many ways to offer interactivity within your courses.
Within the content itself, you can provide interactivity in formats
such as PowerPoint and Flash. Buttons, clickable icons and form
fields are examples of interactive content.
If you use the built-in authoring tool, you can provide
interactivity with an easy method we call "learner exercises."
These exercises can be added to most learning screens simply by
choosing a template. Each exercise consists of a question and up
to four candidate answers, which you provide. You can also
include an image or a video in the exercise. Multimedia
responses are available for your selection for each possible answer.
4. Narration Adds Life To Learning Content
A voice-over narration can spice up your learning material with a
modest amount of effort. You can add a narration to every
learning screen if you are using the integrated authoring tool or
FlexAuthoring. The steps are as follows:
A. Develop your content for each learning screen without the
narration, using whatever text and images you choose. You can
add the narration at any time later.
B. Based on your content, write down a summary statement or two for
each screen that will become your narration "script." Don't
repeat the exact words from your learning screen - your students can
C. Record your narration using a recording tool like the Windows
Sound Recorder or a more capable product such as Sony's Sound
Forge Audio Studio. Record it several times, if necessary, to get
the narration right. Use a normal computer microphone.
D. Save each narration on your computer as a separate MP3 file.
MP3 is an efficient audio format that works well over the internet.
If the recording tool you are using lets you choose quality
parameters, choose one from the middle of the pack (for example, you
might choose "Radio" settings for decent sound quality). Avoid
CD Quality and Stereo settings - these options create larger sound
files with little or no benefit.
E. Upload your files to the FlexTraining Media Library and give
each a meaningful description. You can test them within the
Media Library screens to verify that they look and sound as you
F. Add the narrations to each learning screen using the built-in
authoring tool. Simply select the narration from the list on the
After you have recorded and utilized a few narrations, you will see
that the process is straightforward and the improvement in your
learning material is considerable.
5. Smart Choices for Video
Video can be difficult to manage and deliver, or it can be simple
if you make the right choices. If you decide to take on the
challenge of creating video content, follow these guidelines:
A. Record your videos in AVI file format. AVI is not suitable
for delivering video because it creates files that are very
large. But it is an excellent format for saving and editing
your video and adding titles and transitions. Other "large file"
formats are OK as well. Just don't expect to save video in a
final, efficient streaming format right after you record it.
B. After recording, edit your videos in a simple, inexpensive
editing software like Pinnacle's Studio AV product (there are many
others). After editing a video to your satisfaction, save it
again in AVI format. Use long file names that describe the
contents of each video.
C. Consider converting the finished video into Flash format for use
in FlexTraining using the Flash development environment. Flash
is efficient for internet use, and almost all web browsers already
have the Flash player built-in. This simplifies the delivery
management process. Streaming formats such as Windows "WMV"
format are a decent second choice. Streaming formats are
bandwidth-friendly but require the student to have a player on his
computer. For most people, Flash is the best choice as a final
D. Upload your Flash or streaming videos to the FlexTraining
Media library and add them to your learning screens using the
authoring tool. Do not load the "large file" videos which you
saved in AVI format into FlexTraining. These large files are not
useful within FlexTraining - they hog bandwidth and slow things down.
Just keep them on your computer in case you decide to re-edit them
6. Choose Images and Multimedia Carefully
In general, use images, photos, audio, video and other multimedia
- Support the lesson objective
- Are student-centered
- Build on previous learning
- Have useful and meaningful content
- Are consistent with learning principles
- Maintain student interest/attention
- Are quality images, movies, etc.
- Are complete and accurate
- Use appropriate terminology
- Are properly sequenced
- Are clean and visually appealing
- Give proper stimuli and enforcement
7. Consider a Pilot Approach
One strategy to consider would be the idea of selecting a single
course to use as a "pilot." The pilot concept means that you
fully develop all the screens, images and multimedia you need for
this single course, and actually assemble and deliver the course,
before beginning working on the material for your other courses.
The primary benefit is that you will experience every step in the
development process on a small scale. This experience will help
you work more efficiently when developing subsequent courses, possibly
changing your mind about what kinds of material to use.
Put another way, you might develop enough material for one course,
view your resulting course, and then change your mind about what kind
of text, images or narration to use. For example, you might decide
you narration distracts from the on-screen text and needs to be
shortened. Using a pilot approach, you will only have to rework
a small amount of material before you continue on with your other
The verbiage in this "Content Strategies" section does not specify
whether you will be building all your content at once or utilizing a
single-course pilot concept. The decision is yours, but a pilot
approach is an excellent way to save time and effort, and to produce
course material with which you will be pleased.