Course starter templates are my specialty at the moment!
I have a little project underway that is close to being ready for release (or closer than it was 9 months ago!). You can read more about this by clicking on the image below…
Here’s a sneak peak at what my new website will look like:
The e-Learning Heroes weekly challenge #183 challenged participants to “share a construction-theme course starter template that contains at least six slides”, so as I just happened to have this construction-themed template already developed, I thought this would be a good opportunity to share this design, plus some information on things that I’ve come across in the last few months of developing course starter templates in Storyline.
As the challenge overview mentioned, “course starter templates are a fantastic starting point for kick-starting your e-Learning projects”. Once you have your design created, “common layouts such as content slides, quizzes, scenarios and interactions can quickly be customised to align visually with project’s topic”.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
However, there is a great deal of work that goes into designing and developing a fully functional course starter template if you intend sharing this for use by others.
I try to use a range of design styles when I’m developing courses, but I am ultimately very much drawn to visually compelling designs, ie using relevant images for slide backgrounds that set the context for the learning content.
So, having said this, my design process always starts with sourcing the images. This can be time-consuming if you are quite particular about your images as I am, but I find this probably the most enjoyable and rewarding part of the design process.
The images I choose dictate the colour scheme for the design, so making sure these are all going to work in the one design is an important part of this process.
If you are going to share your course starter template with others, I highly recommend that you have a process that you follow very closely. This will ensure you end up with a quality product that is [hopefully] flawless and easy for others to work with.
Once I have my images and colour scheme sorted, I then choose the appropriate fonts – and make sure I set these up in the Storyline file before I go any further. It’s easier to do this at this stage, than go back and set this up later – so I’ve found out!
I then start with the Slide Master and design a range of slides that can be used throughout the template. I find that by using the Slide Master I achieve more consistency and find I work much more efficiently to build the different slides when I have this base to work from. Just how much you put in your Slide Masters is another question, and this is something I’m still debating with myself about – and even approach differently for different templates. However, as a minimum, I use the Slide Master for all background images (and use the “format background” option rather than inserting the image onto the slide), all headings, as much of the text content placement as I can and often elements on the slide such as, in the case of this template, the white background boxes the text content sits on. This can mean that your Slide Master has quite a few slides in it, but this way it’s much easier to choose a layout and start developing than if you just have the background image and slide title on the Slide Master. I would be interested to hear what approach others take on this.
Laying out the course structure in scenes is the next step. I label everything as I develop – another thing I strongly recommend – from scenes, to slides, to slide layers and every object on every slide. Doing this while you’re developing can be a massive time-saver, even if you’re not sharing your template or file with anyone else.
Once the slides are developed, there are numerous options that you need to look at in the course player that will make the template much more polished and customised.
And, of course, the final testing, fine-tuning, publishing, re-doing, re-testing, and re-publishing…
This course starter template is probably one of my favourite ones. I think it is visually compelling and really does help set the context for the learning.
It has lots of slides, as you will see from the demo. I’ve divided them into scenes which makes for easier developing – and obviously not every slides needs to be used in the final product if you were creating a course from this template.
As a minimum here’s a list of the slides I would include in any course starter template I develop:
- Title Slide
- Introduction Slide
- Course Objectives Slide
- Content Slides
- Interaction Slides
- Knowledge Check Introduction Slide
- Quiz Slides
- Summary/Recap Slide
For this particular template I have not used characters, although I would definitely recommend doing this in course starter templates as these can help with increased learner motivation, engagement and connection with the course content. However, just a heads-up on using characters in your design work – if you are going to share your source files, even just with others in your network online, and even if you’re not charging, there are restrictions on including characters such as the ones that come with Storyline, or even the ones you purchase from subscriptions like e-Learning Brothers.
One way around this restriction is to source other images that are labelled for commercial use that have characters with plain background that you can work with. The challenge for me has been finding character images that have multiple poses.
Oh yes, if you want to view the interactive demo to this template, click on the image just before the design section above!!