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C2C Digital Magazine (Spring / Summer 2021)

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Cover, page 11 of 21


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Top tips on developing training material with Storyline 360

By Darin Challacombe, ScanSTAT Technologies

Storyline 360 is an e-learning authoring tool from Articulate.  The authoring software is robust and intuitive. It provides users with the flexibility to create content without being limited to templates. It also allows users to publish course materials in a variety of formats, including SCORM and web-accessible versions.

Articulate provides Storyline as part of their Articulate 360 suite. The cost runs from $499 annually (Personal Academic Plan) to $1,299 (Company Teams Plan) for the suite. Storyline must be purchased with the suite—it is not available as a standalone component.

I have been using Storyline since 2018. During my initial work with it, I converted courses from Microsoft PowerPoint or OneNote using very basic features of the program. Over time, I have challenged myself to get more creative in course design. I have added in videos, closed-captioning, and quizzes with multiple different question types. My designs now include questions throughout the training to reinforce the objectives (see a course I designed in 2020 regarding HIPAA compliance).

The format for my course design has changed over time as well. My company previously used Litmos, which gave me great flexibility in course delivery. The company now uses a LMS built into our Human Resource Information System (HRIS) that has less flexibility. Courses must be formatted in SCORM 2004 vs. SCORM 1.2 format. Articulate allows authors to easily switch between the format of the published project.

Over the past nearly three years using Articulate and designing courses for different business needs, I have come up with a handful of tips to use related to Articulate but generic for other instructional design courseware:

1. Use a pre-test and integrate post-test questions through the training. I am an academic by training. I like to establish a baseline and then measure improvement from that baseline. I establish this baseline by asking a few questions before going through the training. This Harassment course does just that: I ask the same questions for the post-test at the onset of the course. This queues up learners to the topics being covered.

In Articulate, you can do this through Storyline (by copying your questions and inserting them into the correct Scene):

Figure 1:  Placing Content in Scenes

Alternatively, you can use Articulate’s Quizmaker. This program will allow you to create a question bank that can be used in multiple courses.

Figure 2:  Questions from a Question Bank in Articulate’s Quizmaker

2. Use multimedia elements to keep your learners’ attention. Articulate allows authors to insert other aspects than just text. I like to create a character who guides the learner through the course (see Alberto on this HIPAA course). These characters can be inserted with a variety of different poses.

Figure 3:  Characters to Guide Learners in a Course

Another aspect I like to do is short videos. I will either create videos myself or (ideally) have someone else create one. I sometimes add in some music or memes to make things more interesting and keep the learner engaged.

Figure 4:  Using Multimedia and Contents for Learner Engagement

3. Avoid too many words on the pages. This can be a struggle for some. I have personally sat through numerous trainings with PowerPoint slides that are busy and have too many words. I try to break topics up into small sections—bite-sized bits. I will also utilize bolding, italicizing, and underlining if I have to include a paragraph or two on a page.

Figure 5:  Chunking Contents

Depending on the training, I will sometimes run the slides through Word’s readability tool. I then try to shoot for a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score of 9 or below.

Figure 6:  Checking Course Content Readability

4. Brand your courses. This is a simple step that I typically do at the end of my course development. I will stick the company logo on the corner of the training material. This branding is quick and easy to do in Articulate (e.g., CTRL-V). It does help to make the training look polished.

Figure 7:  Branding Courses

5. Keep your SME engaged through the development process. As I develop courses for different lines of business, I am not always the subject matter expert (SME) for the topic. Even if I am a SME for the topic area, I always run the training by others to ensure that it makes sense.

In Articulate, it is easy to do this. I will publish the course as a Word document. The SME/s can then add in comments in Word that I will work to implement.

Figure 8:  Exporting a Word Version

In conclusion, I first did not imagine myself using Articulate much when I first started in my position. I now use this tool every day. It makes things very easy to take an idea and make it into a solution.

About the Author

Darin Challacombe serves as the Manager for Training and Development at DataFile Technologies and is a Psychology Professor at Fort Hays State University. Dr. Challacombe, who holds a PhD in General Psychology from Northcentral University, resides in Kansas City.

His email is  

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