Being Creative With Your Toolbox

Using Tools Differently for Different Projects

Frequently when I share my screen during Zoom meetings, I get quite a reaction. The reaction isn’t about the amazing desktop background picture of me climbing Everest (Kidding! It’s just a stock image.); it’s from people who catch a glimpse of my email inbox.

“Where’s everything?!” coworkers seem to gasp in horror.

At the time I’m typing this, I have two emails in my inbox. “How is that even possible?” you may be asking yourself.

It’s really quite simple. I treat my inbox as a to-do list. If it’s in my inbox, then the ball is in my court and I have a task to do. Once my task is wrapped up, the email gets archived or moved to a folder.

I’m not rambling (or is it bragging?) to shame anyone who has 2,368 unread emails or to try to convert people to use their email differently. What I’m trying to show is just how versatile one tool can be and how, depending on the user, we all can interface with the exact same tool differently.

This lesson can also be applied to the many tools I use while designing and developing training solutions. It’s very important to use the right tool for the job, but it can be even more critical to observe the client’s needs. It’s easy to get caught up in assumptions and blinded by past experience, while missing the simplest (and often the most cost-effective) solution.

Lights, Camera, Action

Innovative Learning Group has seen a fairly large uptick in requests for animated videos lately. Whether it’s a full-blown 3D rendering of a complex mechanism or a simple animation promoting an upcoming training initiative, videos are a very efficient way to get concepts across. With that being said, the two biggest hurdles in video production typically are development time and budget — and for good reason. A lot of thought and pixel-pushing can go into a video.

Vyond

Choosing the right tool can help clear the hurdles. One of my go-tos is Vyond, which is an online animation software that can offer fantastic results with relatively quick development time. While it’s meant to be an animation tool, it works very well with other videos, text, and audio — making it the perfect candidate for many projects.

Recently, we were developing an e-learning course for an automotive client on its upcoming return-to-the-office initiative. The course was complex in scope, as it dealt with three possibilities for employees: staying remote, working onsite, or a hybrid of the two.

We needed a way to introduce the general concept and decided to go with a video, but doing a full-blown production in Adobe Premier or After Effects was not possible given the timeline. We went with Vyond, using a combination of text, images, and stock assets. We were able to quickly create the video, which turned out great, and made our client happy.

Articulate Rise 360

Another example of being creative with your toolbox is using Articulate Rise 360 instead of the industry standard Articulate Storyline 360 while developing an e-learning course. While Rise 360 can be quite blunt in its minimalist offerings, it makes development time very short. You can also import outside elements, like videos, custom-made graphics, and even pre-made Storyline 360 interactions, producing a very cohesive and engaging course.

For the same automotive client’s project, we decided to go with Rise 360. This was due to the timeline and having determined the client’s actual needs. The client was looking for something brief, informative, and engaging to get employees comfortable with their roles. They didn’t need all of the bells and whistles of a full-blown Storyline 360 course, because many of the options found in Storyline 360 would’ve been distracting to the message they were trying to get across.

Tool Dangers

The one danger in getting creative with other tools like this is that sometimes the client’s needs, vision, and budget can expand and outgrow the tool you’re working in. Having a good overall understanding and scope of the project can alleviate that and, obviously, a solid rapport with the client helps immensely.

While I’m still a firm believer in using the right tool for the right job, I think it’s crucial to think about all options available and how you can get the most out of them. For some, that’s having an inbox full of 2,368 unread emails; for others, like me, it’s only a few. Somehow, we both manage to communicate perfectly with one another.

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