Creating E-learning Materials

23/08/2020

How confident are you when it comes to creating online teaching materials? As more education moves online, teachers are being asked to create online learning materials, which requires a new skill set. Today's blog looks at some tools you can use. 

There is value in working with what you know, as it saves time, and there is a smaller learning curve. It's also worth exploring the programmes your institution has for e-learning. While this blog can't go through how to do things in detail, there is almost always a Youtube video where someone will show you how.

This blog is in no way intended to be comprehensive, but rather is a selection of tried and trusted tools. 

Powerpoint

Powerpoint has been with us for so long, most people can create a slide show. It is actually quite a powerful tool. You can create a lesson that will run by: 

  1. Start with your existing slides
  2. Add timings (look on the Transitions tab. Tip: you can add a transition to each point on your slide, so they come in one at a time)
  3. Record a voice over (use the voice recorder on your phone, or download a free one from the play store)
  4. Add the audio track to the slides (on the insert tab) You may need to adjust the timings, and split the audio track over multiple slides. This bit can be tricky. Make sure the Audio file is saved in the same folder as the slideshow. 
  5. If you have video clips, you can embed them in the slide show. 
  6. End off with a quiz or question to test their learning. You can use a Google form to collect their answers. 
  7. For images, Pixabay provides free images that can legally be used for commercial use, no attribution required in most cases (check though!)
  8. Slideshare is a great resource where people share their presentations on topics. Have a look at other presentations for inspiration. 

Commercial Tools

I don't often focus on tools that have to be paid for, but this is an exception, because I have never found a free tool that easily incorporates everything into one platform, like Adobe Captivate does. (Tip - you can get a free trial for 30 days, which may be long enough to create your lessons)

  • Captivate works on the basis of slides, as Powerpoint does. 
  • It has a simple to use 'story board' where you drop and drag the different parts of your lesson onto a timeline. (slides / audio video)
  • It has a screen capture option, so you can film what you do on your computer to demonstrate for your students how to do something. 
  • You can do a screencast, where it records both you and your screen as you demonstrate 
  • It allows you to create interactive quizzes and activtities
  • It has some brilliant animations that can add to your presentation
  • There are loads of templates to work with to help get you started. 
  • The result can be exported into multiple formats.
  • There are lots of videos showing you how to use it. 

An alternative is Camtasia, or you could consider the subscription based options discussed in this blog.

If you can't afford one of the commercial tools, and want free tools, you'll need to consider a range of different tools, or use one of the free authoring tools listed in this blog. 

The alternative is to use a range of tools and combine them to create your e-learning materials. 

Free tools for creating E-learning materials:

Images - Pixabay or Morguefile

Screen Capture - Screencast

Youtube selection tool - if you only want to use part of a Youtube video, this tool allows you to create a link to that section. 

Video Creation 

  • Powtoon (free version) allows you to create free videos, with animated characters.
  • Vimeo (Free version) Vimeo is a video hosting platform, much like Youtube, but videos can be password protected. They also have a Video creation tool, with loads of templates.
  • Dfilm (formerly Dvolver) allows you to create videos using a range of templates
  • Voki creates 'talking head' style animated videos

Online Quizzes

  • Google forms can be used to create simple quizzes and tests. This is free for private use, but not commercial use. 
  • Typeform allows you to create simple online quizzes for free
  • Survey providers like Survey Monkey and Mailchimp can also be used for creating Quizzes. 
  • Help Teaching has a range of worksheets, and you can create your own online tests and activities ,up to KS12

And if you'd like to explore some others, look at this blog.

Why re-invent the wheel?

There is a wide range of ready to use e-learning materials available for free. Save time by using content from Youtube, Vimeo etc. Khan Academy provides free online lessons on a range of topics, as does BBC Bitesize. There are others in this blog of ours. 

There are also many companies providing pre-packaged e-learning materials for a fee. My personal favourite is LinkedIn Learning, formerly (Lynda) which covers a wide range of topics. Teachers can create task lists, and assign videos to students, and then track their work. Managers should consider these packages as an easy way to support their teams. This blog considers some of the options.

Getting started

  • Many of these services require you to sign up for a free account. Decide on a user name, email address to use, and a secure password formula. Also, don't give away your address if you can help it, and your real date of birth. 
  • Think about what you want to create, then pick a tool that offers that service.
  • Chose tools you find intuitive and easy to use. (I tend to evaluate by how much I can do before I need to search for 'help' or 'how to' support. )
  • Play and explore the different tools! We maintain a list of our favourites here.

If you'd like us to feature specific resources, or want a blog on tools that would be helpful, please use our contact form. We also offer consultancy and training services.