eLearning Course “Elaborateness”

ROI CloudJust as you (probably?) wouldn’t spend $1000 on an expensive meal for your dog, you wouldn’t spend a lot of money to show four guys in the shop how to enter their time in the new time-entry system.

By elaborateness, I’m talking about how much time and effort you put into your course, or any communication piece, to make it highly polished and professional looking and acting. The level of effort (cost) that you allocate to create your communication piece (e.g., email, letter, conference call, document, memo, user guide, job aid, eLearning course, etc.) depends upon several factors.

Return on Investment (ROI)

How expensive your course is to create, publish, test, and maintain has to be in proportion to the learning goals, the size of the audience, and the expected return on investment (ROI) compared to other delivery modes such as virtual ILT or a simple email.

The elaborateness of an eLearning course can range from the short and simple single course to the lengthy, highly interactive, multi-character, audio and video-rich curriculum.

An Expensive Process

Even short and simple eLearning is generally pretty expensive to create and maintain when you consider the entire process. The course has to be written, produced in an authoring tool (Lectora, Storyline, Articulate Presenter, etc.), narrated, tested, edited, reviewed, published, and set up in the LMS. Before going down this path, you should have a good idea of the ROI.

Do Some Analysis First

At the low end, you and or your team might get together to craft your message. This is appropriate for immediate needs such as press releases, putting out fires, email to staff, simple polices and procedures, etc. For more involved interventions, you or your team should do some research, analysis and produce a written report that describes the problem or gap, presents options for correcting or closing the gap, costs, timeline, audience analysis, stakeholders, metrics, success factors, etc. With the report, and its conclusions agreed to and the budget approved, then you and your team can create the interventions, then monitor progress and report your success.

Gotta go, my two 15-inch beagles have a hankering for lobster tail and filet mignon.

Gigabyte NVIDIA GeForce GT 640 F52 vBIOS Supports UEFI

GigabyteNVIDIAGeForceGT640smallI did some digging and found that the F52 vBIOS update for my Gigabyte video card (GV-N640OC-2GI) supports UEFI.

In January 2014 I performed a clean install of Windows 8.1 on my year-old HP P7-1439 desktop computer. This machine originally came with Windows 8, but I installed Windows 7 Ultimate. So, I was making the round trip back to Windows 8 (actually 8.1). At the time, I was unaware of UEFI but eventually figured out the workaround. Install Windows 8 without the add-in video card, change the UEFI BIOS to enable legacy mode and disable secure boot. Then physically install the add-in video card and install the Nvidia software/driver.

This worked fine. But I wondered if Gigabyte offered a vBIOS that supports UEFI.

I looked here: http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4255&dl=1#bios and used the VGA_@BIOS tool to determine that I had the F50 vBIOS. The site says to stay within the series when upgrading. So the upgrade is the F52. I emailed Gigabyte and they confirmed that this vBIOS supports UEFI.

After flashing F52, I can confirm that this vBIOS does indeed support UEFI. I went back to the UEFI/BIOS settings and disabled legacy mode and re-enabled secure boot.

Windows XP, IE6 for LMS/eLearning Course Testing

Windows XP Pro LogoIn 2013 I set up an old Dell OptiPlex GX260 computer with a fresh install of Windows XP Pro SP3 and Internet Explorer 6. I use this machine to test eLearning courses that have to work with IE6. This machine is joined to my domain and is under the control of my WSUS server for updates. So, I have to be careful not to approve IE7 or IE8, and I imagine, related updates.

Platforms for Course Testing

This is just one of several platforms that I use to test LMS’s and eLearning courses. Others include IE9, IE10, IE11, Google Chrome, and Firefox, on Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. We also normally have to test several versions of Safari on several generations of iPad as well as the Mac.

I can log into this machine, or any of my other machines, from anywhere using either Remote Desktop Connection (RDP) or Remote Web Access (RWA).

November 1, 2014 Update, eliminated IE6 Test Machine

I eliminated the GX260 machine that had IE 6. I replaced it with a Dell GX620 box with Windows XP Pro SP3 and Internet Explorer 8. This configuration is what some larger corporate clients still have deployed. I understand however, that the clock is ticking to eliminate these machines from corporate networks.

Articulate Storyline Updates

Storyline LogoAt the end of January 2013, Articulate released the fifth update to Storyline 1. This is the fourth “large” update since Storyline was release in May 2012. The January release contains 49+ changes. In my book, that’s a large update.

From a quick glance at the list of enhancements and defect fixes, it appears that a fair number of them are related to HTML5. Since producing content for mobile devices and particularly the iPad is a requirement these days, it makes sense that this relatively new tool (Articulate), should maximize it’s compliance with HTML5/iPad/Safari technology.

Two releases are named “Update 4.” Update 4 (1311.817) was released November 11, 2013 and contained 37+ updates. Update 4 (1311.1422) was released a few days later, November 15, 2013, and contained one update.

Read more about the updates (abbreviated release notes), here: http://www.articulate.com/support/storyline/issues-addressed-in-the-latest-articulate-storyline-update

OWA, Forefront TMG, Change Password, Page Not Found Error 403

Microsoft Forefront LogoAfter upgrading from ISA Server 2006 to Forefront TMG 2010, the Change Password feature in Outlook Web Access (OWA) stopped working. It gave a 403 page error. I looked high and low for a solution but found only poor/bad/incorrect/non-helpful information.

Clicking the Change Password link in OWA attempts to open this page:

In Internet Explorer, this page gives the error:
Error Code: 403 Forbidden. The server denied the specified Uniform Resource Locator (URL). Contact the server administrator. (12202)

The fix for me was to add /ecp/* on the Paths tab of the OWA rule in Forefront TMG.

1. On the Forefront TMG server, go to Firewall Policy > Exchange OWA (or whatever your OWA policy is called).
2. Select Edit Selected Rule on the Tasks tab. The Properties dialog opens.
3. Select the Paths tab.
4. Click Add and enter the internal path you want to allow. In my case, the hint came from the URL. I entered /ecp/*.
5. Click Apply, OK.

Notepad, Great for “Washing” Text

Microsoft NotepadI was reminded this week just how handy Notepad is and that not everyone may be aware of it. Someone sent me a three page document that was all jazzed up with tables, cells, type faces and bullets. The sender wanted to add a bulleted item but was stymied by the table borders…that she couldn’t see.

I suggested washing (scrubbing) the text in Notepad then pasting it into a fresh document. “What?” After I explained it a little bit, she thought that it would take too long. Au contraire. It’s easier done than said.

I copied the text, pasted it into Notepad and did a little light editing. I removed the bonus spaces, lines, etc., then pasted the result into a new Word document. After a little in-line formatting, I sent the new doc back to her twenty minutes later.

I really take this for granted. I have at least one instance of Notepad open at all times. I use it with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and anywhere else there’s formatted text…that I want to neutralize. In addition to Outlook, Windows/File Explorer, and Google Chrome, there’s usually a Notepad window open on my desktop. In addition to washing text, I use Notepad to keep and save notes in the very handy *.txt format.