I am big on engaging visual backgrounds – and when I came across the e-learning Heroes weekly challenge #95 Using Video Backgrounds to Visually Engage Learners, this opened up a whole new area of design for me to experiment with.
The challenge introduction talked about how video backgrounds are trending in web design right now. I have noticed this, but I don’t agree with using video backgrounds just for the sake of using them. I really believe they need to be totally relevant to the course so that they do help set the context for the learning content.
The challenge for this design was to “show one or more ways video backgrounds can be used in e-Learning courses”.
The Design – No 1
This is the first of my designs. It incorporates a video background with an audio player – so actually fits into two categories for the challenges, the other one being #112 Video and Media Players in e-Learning.
As mentioned in the challenge overview, there are a number of websites you can go to to grab free video footage for use in designs such as this. I’ve added some of my favourites to My Toolkit page. I also have a subscription to Presenter Media, which is where I got this footage from. I’ve never used their video footage before, but now I can see a whole range of options for using it, which makes this subscription even more valuable to me!
The final production was built on one slide, with a separate layer for each of the five audio pieces. In line with simulating the real-life use of an audio player such as this one, I added hotspots over the image on each layer, including the base layer as the navigation points to start and stop the audio, and to move on to the next piece, or navigate back to the previous audio.
I downloaded the audio from the YouTube Audio Library – there’s a whole section of free music – some requiring attribution, but most not. As a point of interest, there’s also a whole section of free sound effects in this library – a great resource for e-Learning course development.
The design came together really quickly, but there was some after-production fine-tuning that I’ve now completed that makes quite a difference to the end product. Thanks to Joanne Chen for her feedback which inspired me to think more deeply about the fine-tuning of the design.
I incorporated triggers that paused the video background when the learner paused the audio, as well as triggers to start the video background when the learner clicked on the play button to start the audio again. I couldn’t do this with the original design as the video background file was only on the base layer. I ended up adding the video file to each layer, but then I needed to add a hotspot over this file to prevent the learner from clicking on the video to stop it. Originally when I just had the video on the base layer I was using the “Prevent the user from clicking on the base layer” option of each of the slide layer properties.
What I learnt from this project was that if you’re going to create a simulation, fine details are important – it needs to be as close to the real thing as you can get it.
I think the overall result is now an accurate interactive simulation demo with an engaging visual background and I’m now motivated to try other designs using this concept.
The Design – No 2
This demo was inspired by this book by Daniel Tatarsky that I bought at the local opportunity shop – what a great title for a book!
The design took less than 20 minutes to create and started with the video background of the earth spinning, which I absolutely love! The original video is only short, but I made it loop so that it continues to play no matter how long you view the demo.
The numbers are text boxes – each of them is added to a button set, which means you can only select one at a time to view the information.
I developed the design on just one slide, with layers for each of the five pieces of information. I added triggers to each of the numbers to show each of the layers.
I chose not to add any animations as I wanted this demo to highlight the fact that you can create learning in a short time frame and don’t always need to go overboard with special effects in your design to make the learning engaging.
Design – No. 3
This demo was also inspired by the “Everything You Need to Know About Everything You Need to Know About” book. The design took a little longer to develop as I used a slider to reveal the information and I also needed to spend some time sourcing images for the seven types of birds.
I built the demo with an intro slide, then a second slide that had slide layers containing the content. The triggers for the slider were set to show each of these layers as the slider is moved to the right. One additional trigger I found I always need to add is a trigger that takes learners back to the base slide layer if they drag the slider all the way back to the beginning, otherwise it continues to show one of the layers.
Interestingly, I couldn’t get the slider to work on top of the video background unless I “locked” the objects on the timeline.