Monday, April 4, 2011


I got this food for thought on ‘LEAN ID’ when I saw one of the Articulate Presenter slides used by my team mate (ironically for a course on LEAN Manufacturing) and I saw too many objects in them. Some of them could be grouped and used as a single picture file which would reduce publishing time and also create less confusion when you open the selection pane. “Why don’t you make the module LEAN?” I asked her.
In this post, let me try to share a few LEAN techniques and practices that can be used in Instructional Designing.
Be Organized

If you are using Articulate Presenter,
- Slide Title: Give title to the slides using the Outline feature. It will help you later, if not in the beginning.
- Grouped Image vs png: Use a separate PowerPoint file to build your graphics. Finally take only a single png file to your ‘course’ file rather than taking a grouped image with 5 shapes. Remember that Presenter gives individual attention to each of the shapes in your slide when you preview or publish. So its an additional 4 shapes with each grouped image you have.
- Master Slides: Use Master Slides if you have 2 or more slides with same background. Presenter needs to publish the master slide elements only once then.
- Compress Pictures: Just before you publish, compress the pictures in your file. Choosing ‘Screen’ quality is a good method to obtain optimum clarity. Make sure that you select ‘Delete cropped areas of pictures’. Basically you are cleaning your file by keeping just what you will need. It’s all about eliminating the MUDA. ;-)

- Name the Objects: Give a name to each object in your slide. Especially when you have a lot of custom animations, it’s easier to work with named objects rather than with a set of “Right Arrow 9, Rectangle 5, Picture 3 and Rectangle 4”. And if you use the Audio Editor interface, to adjust the timing of custom animations, its going to be of great use. I have always found it really helpful.

If you are using Adobe Captivate,
- Give the right settings before you start recording. If you don’t want a clickbox to be automatically created, you can disable it before recording. Or else you will waste time deleting that from each slide.
If you have a specific format required for the text captions, you can set it as the default style instead of having to format each caption later.

- Delete unused items from the Library to reduce the file size and thereby improve performance speed.
- If you are scared that you will delete a few slide backgrounds which you might require later, use a copy of the record file as your working file.
- Group your slides: Let’s say you have a Captivate file of a software demo with 125 slides. You clean up and finish 70 slides today. Group these slides and name it as ‘Complete’. So the next day when you work, you need not scroll down these 70 slides to figure out where you stopped yesterday.
- Use Captivate Reviewer: It’s an excellent tool to manage review comments.
Some of these might seem to be trivial, but trust me – once you practise this and make it a habit you will notice the difference.

Social Bookmarking:
I had always felt it difficult to manage my bookmarks. When I want to launch that page which talks about inserting Engage file as swf in Presenter, I don’t know which one to choose from the long list of bookmarks.

Moreover, if I bookmarked something during my work at office, it’s difficult for me to have it launched when I work from home later. So I searched for an online bookmark service provider and ended up choosing Diigo from the many options I had.
The thing I like about Diigo is that when you save a bookmark, you don’t put it under a folder (like I did for Articulate). Instead, you add tags or keywords with each bookmark. So if I know that the page I am looking for is a screenr on any Articulate product, I would click on the tags – Articulate and Screenr. This will list all the bookmarks with these tags.

You also have options to have a network within the Diigo interface and share your selected bookmarks in the network. But I have not looked into these options yet.
Some other options are that you can highlight a part of a web page and save it so that next time you don’t have to read the whole article to get your key points. You may also save images and write notes with tags attached to them.


Another way to implement Lean in your workstyle is to use Quicklaunch. I always launch the internet explorer using the quick launch. It saves a few clicks for me. I have also given a short cut key to launch Photoshop in my office desktop. You can infact assign customized shortcut keys to launch applications in your computer.
FastStone Capture which is a screen capture device we use, has a minimize mode, in which you can launch it using shortcuts. The software WordWeb is also really helpful to find meanings. All you need to do is select the word (from your word document, webpage, etc) and type Ctrl+Alt+W. And it will launch the application with the meaning of the selected word.

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I think there are still a lot more LEAN techniques which we use in our daily life. And it becomes all the more important in instructional designing because it’s a mix bag. We do a little bit of scripting, a little bit of designing, a little bit of writing, a little bit of editing and a little bit of everything. And at the end of the day we really become fat with a small pile of everything. So let us burn the fat and keep just what we need. Let us start getting LEAN…!!!

1 comment:

  1. Very fact we use many of what u said so often, without knowing that we were actually following the Lean methodology..but if we make these activities habits, we can really become Leaner in wastage, but fatter in productivity..