RSS Feed

Interactive Piano Scales

I’ve been creating some resources for music theory and I had a brainwave, so I’ve created an interactive Articulate Storyline 2 activity which allows students to practice the major and minor scales.

I’ve kept it simple, the student is given a screen with a piano keyboard, they select all the keys for a chord and when they submit, if correct, will hear the chord played. If the scale is incorrect they can try again.

I’ve showcased it at work and it’s gone down well. All the assets are in the public domain, I got the sounds for Freesounds and the image from Pixabay.

Here is what the question screens look like initially:



When the student selects the keys, this is what it looks like:


You can find the storyline files here, as well as the scorm zip files and assets.

I’m also thinking that it could easily be converted into an assessment where the students pass/fail each question and have to get a percentage to pass the quiz. I’m also thinking of a version where the student gets 3 tries for each question, with 30,20, 10 points for each try. Please feedback with your thoughts. I hope this resource is useful!


Combining Text and Images in E-Learning #152

This week’s task to combining text and images, this is something that makes up most of the e-learning content and one that I can spend ages trying to get right. Due to my IT background I’m particular about how an e-learning package looks and want it to look professional but also relevant for the user.  As I design packages for students at different levels and both FE and HE and also staff they can all look very different.

An example of a course I did for FE students was one on employability skills, this is the start screen:


I wanted to include an image of the college, and when it animates the line looks like it is drawn before the image and text fades in.

I find layers can be really helpful as it there is a lot of text, image buttons can be used which then displays the text as a “pop-up”, like in this screen from the same package.


In this package, which again is for students, I used a rectangle shapes as an overlay and made it slightly transparent. When you have clicked on a menu option and return, the background image becomes black and white.


For the quiz, I used the bottom of the image as a border to keep a consistent feel.


For professional studies students, they wanted a more professional look, in this screen I used an image where the main focus is in the right, so I could add the text to the left without having to lose any focus of the image by making it transparent.


These are just a few examples as there are many ways of combining images and text. I like the echo effect from a previous challenge which I blogged about here. I also like to either make an image transparent or blurred and a shape overlay can give a slide a polished look too like in this example.


Using Interactive Dials and Knobs in E-Learning #151

This weeks Articulate Storyline challenge is using dials, I love this idea and hadn’t thought of this technique.

I was trying to think of a way to use this and thought it might be good for a colour wheel type activity which is used in hairdressing, particular when correcting colour.

The images I got from Pixabay and the dial click sound for freesounds.

Here is one of the dials:


Click the dial to see how the colour changes when adding the correcting colour.

Now, I’m not a subject specialist so the colours between the primary colour and the neutralising colour don’t equate well in the RGB or CYMK colour scheme of Photoshop. I have forwarded this to Hair and Beauty at the college and they love it. They said they will feedback the correct colours, but I wanted to get this uploaded before the challenge finished so here it is. If it needs any amendments I will update this blog.

You can find the storyline file here.

Hope this is useful!


Articulate Storyline 2: Timer Challenge

This week challenge is animated timers. I recently needed a timer and although I wanted to create an animated timer I didn’t have time so used a number that counted down.

This is the timer I’ve created:


I got the stop watch image from Pixabay and the tick and alarm sounds from freesound.

I’ve designed it as a template of 3 timers for 10 seconds, 30 seconds and 60 seconds. I’ve used a slide for each one, the timer is in a layer with a small timer at the bottom right. The idea is this is a template, the slide can be imported into a project and the layer shown and hidden when needed .

This is the menu:



To view the timer, click on the timer and it will display it. To use in a project you can import the slide with the appropriate timer.

This is the timer screen:


The navigation text can be removed and content added.

You can find the Storyline file here.

Hope this is useful!

Challenge Accepted!

Last week Tom Kuhlmann’s weekly Articulate Storyline 2 challenge was to create a cover slide with an echo effect, I really liked the effect and I’ve been looking forward to trying it.

I’m delivering some training to construction staff on how to create storyboard which I use to create interactive learning packages so thought it would be a good excuse to try the echo technique for an example.

Here it is!


I’ve also tried one out for Society, Health and Social Care:


Teaching in the 21st Century

As part of my job role, I’ve been doing a lot of research on technology in teaching. Two concepts that I really feel are important are SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environment, from Sugata Mitra) and the Flipped Classroom. After suffering a broken leg I have been recovering with 6 months off work.  Upon my return these key concepts seem to have exploded into the college as something staff should be engaging with.

This feels like an exciting time in teaching, the key concept about teaching that really struck me was in Sugata Mitra’s winning Ted 2013 key note speech: Teaching is the same as it has been for decades, but the workplace has changed dramatically, we are teaching students for jobs that are obsolete.

We need to change the way we teach for a generation that can find any information at any time at the touch of a button, but at the same time do not have the skills to filter, evaluate or analyse what they have found. I was pondering this. How easy is this going to be? Just how engrained is the traditional classroom teaching in our culture?

I’m a bit of a geek and love science fiction. I used to love watching Star Trek and was a real Trekker in my younger years. The show has been hailed as predicting/inspiring technological advances with communicators (mobile phones), automatic doors to name just two. So how did Start Trek universe predict teaching would look like in the 24th century?


Looks a bit familiar! Teacher standing at the front whilst the students sit at individual desks listening. They may have technology on the desks, but they are still learning from listening to a teacher. With a classroom like this there is no easy to for the students to collaborate or work in groups. This episode was probably recorded around 1993 so the classroom layout looks dated by today’s standards. But I feel it shows just how engrained teaching is, that despite all the technical advances writers think up about the future, teaching is still the same.

The Flipped Classroom

I really like this concept, and think it helps give students skills they need in an engaging way. This video describes this concept well.

I’ve been doing lots of reading and there are some really great YouTube videos of practitioners sharing what they have done, how successful it was and the problems they have faced. The one thing that has struck me is that:

  • Most are American
  • All are based in schools

The Flipped Classroom in FE

As a learning technologist at a F.E./H.E. college I am looking at how the concepts can be applied in this setting. In school most of the assessment is exam based, and with Government changes this is only going to increase. Watching a video of the content and applying this in class is a great way to move up Bloom’s taxonomy to the higher learning which will be beneficial when assessment is exams. In college’s and sixth forms, A levels are also mostly exam based.

However, in FE a large amount of assessment is course work, particular vocational courses such as BTEC. Teaching a vocational course can vary depending on the subject.

The question I was asking myself was: Can the flipped classroom approach be applied in FE or does it need to be modified?

As I’m writing this, I feel like I’m answering my own question. Some practical courses would definitely benefit for this approach, for example in catering: Watching a video about preparing meat and then coming to college and applying those skills in a workshop would be beneficial for both teacher and student. Courses where there is little writing and more practical and observational assessment, the flipped classroom would make class time more efficient and more engaging.

As an I.T. teacher myself previously, I was thinking of other subjects, such as business and IT, where the majority of the assessment is written (writing reports, posters, leaflets etc) and done mostly in class time. I think in this case you would have a mix.

  1. There is still all the content to deliver, having this as videos gives students flexibility, as they don’t always write the best notes, and the videos can be re-visted at any time to recap.
  2. For each video, class time can be used with practical activities to reinforce the content.
  3. Once the content has been delivered, the students would be writing their assignments, so most of their time is spent on this, both in class and out.

Once the students reach 3, the videos are still available to help them if they forget key concepts, but the lesson is not as engaging, particular towards the end of the unit, as it’s important for them to get their assignments done.

One approach would be for students to work in groups, collaborating as you would in the workplace, but at the end of the day, it is an assessment. It has to be the students’ own work.

The Flipped Classroom in the UK

There is a perception that the flipped classroom is happening in schools now. In a few years time, we will receive students how have been taught in this way, and will not be prepared to learn at college in a traditional setting. However, as most of the information I have found has been American, is this true in the UK?

As I work in a college, I have no answer. It could be that this information is not being shared or it’s just early days for the concept here. I was also wondering if teachers are under so much pressure from Government targets and Ofsted that it doesn’t leave much room for experimentation with their teaching.

I am also interested to know if colleges have tried changing the way they teach using this approach and if it works. I can feel a project brewing but as I am no longer a practitioner myself I have no classes to try this.

Starter for 10

I do deliver staff development training and have decided to use an e-learning session I deliver new staff to try this out. I’ve set up a mini flipped classroom lesson as part of this session.

The training is two days long, so on day one I’m going to give them all this:

10 minute task

The link is to a TedEd lesson I created using a video on Flipped Classroom.

On day two, they will have my session. It will be interesting to see if the staff members actually watch the video or even do the quiz or discussion. Either way, it is a good illustration of what a flipped classroom is.

So watch this space.

Comments and Questions

I would love to hear from other schools and colleges about my thoughts and what they are doing. To repeat myself, it feels like an exciting time in education, but it could just be my perception rather than actual practice.

More MOOCing

Due to different circumstances I’ve fallen by the wayside on the Sustainability MOOC, what I’ve learned has been good and I have found it interesting but I found it hard to keep momentum.

I’ve started my second MOOC, Begin Programming: Build Your First Mobile Game which is being run by University of Reading. This course, as was the Sustainability MOOC is being run through FutureLearn, so the structure is the same. I’m really excited about this one as this a real interest of mine.  I was a programmer in industry for over 6 years, and haven’t really done much apart from teaching basic programming to level 3 students. I’m looking forward to refreshing my skills and learning new ones.

The first week is setting up the environment and getting the pre-prepared program up and running. As is usual with technology, this wasn’t a straight forward process and I spent most of the time reading comments trying to figure out what I’d missed as to why the Android emulator wasn’t working and the errors in the code. I think this is where MOOCs can be really unique as the support students give to each other is great and I wouldn’t have got it to work without that.

So after day 1, I’m up and running!


If I get some time this week, I’d like to have a look at the code in more detail, and there are still two optional steps to complete.

I’m also starting a new MOOC on Wednesday, which is both of professional and personal interest. It is run by the University of Minnesota, and professionally I would like to get a comparison how American MOOCs are run, and also how Coursera compares with FutureLearn. The topic “Creative Problem Solving” sounds interesting and I’m looking forward to this course.

So I’ll be multi-MOOCing for the next few weeks.  I hope that I find these two courses engaging, learn and meet like-minded people.