Why “Visual Design Solutions” Should Be on Your Bookshelf

Why “Visual Design Solutions” Should Be on Your Bookshelf

Visual Design Solutions

by Connie Malamed @elearningcoach  | TheElearningCoach.com

You might not be able to judge a book by it’s cover, but whether you know it or not your audience is making snap decisions about your learning materials at first glance. It DOES matter what your stuff looks like and if you’re looking to up your visual design game you should definitely read Connie Malamed’s latest book, “Visual Design Solutions: Principles and Creative Inspiration for Learning Professionals”.


At the very top of a long list of reasons for reading this book is the way it blends the process and principles of graphic design with accessible ways to apply those sometimes fuzzy concepts to your own actual, real world projects.

Connie has included a boatload of practical examples to illustrate each concept. The examples alone would make this book worth checking out. When they come as a follow-up to plain english explanations of the underlying principles — they are elevated to “must see” status.

This book is divided into four sections:

In the Big Ideas section, you’ll learn why visuals help improve learning outcomes and how to do it the right way. (Decorating is VERY different than designing!) In my opinion, understanding foundational multimedia design principles if one of the most important things a learning designer should master.

Part two covers the building blocks of design in a casual, easy to follow way with lots of great examples along the way. This section will get you up to speed on graphic design concepts like layout, typography, and imagery.

In the third section, you’ll get the “Power Principles” and learn how to unify your designs by making conscious decisions about color, visual hierarchies and other ways to make great looking cohesive designs.

And finally in part four, you’ll see even more great examples and ideas for putting everything into practice. Great stuff like converting boring bullet points to appealing graphics, how to make numbers interesting and more.

I challenge anyone to read this book and NOT walk away with great ideas you can start using immediately. This book is always within reach, right at the front of my book shelf and if you design learning content it should be on yours too!

Also, be sure to follow Connie on Twitter @elearningcoach and her blog TheElearingCoach.com  You’ll be glad you did!


Recent Discoveries

Recent Discoveries

Discoveries this week include a great source of free stock photos and a handy system for managing team/group tasks.

Visual Hunt

There are a boat load of sites offering free stock photos these days but few, if any, offer the features of Visual Hunt. Some of the things I like about it is the ability to search and get results from multiple sites, adding images to a collection which can be downloaded as a single zip file  and the filters for things like commercial use and color.



Task Mail

Keeping track of who is doing what without letting anything slip through the cracks is important for any team or group working together. If you’re looking for a good, easy to use option for this challenge you might want to take a look at TaskMail. TaskMail can help you with get a handle on project management, tracking issues, and team collaboration messaging.



Recent Discoveries Worth Sharing

Recent Discoveries Worth Sharing

It’s been a bit quiet around here for awhile but a few recent conversations with some wonderful people have me re-energized and given me a nudge to get going again. So here are a few things I’ve uncovered recently that I think are worth sharing.

Vivaldi: A Customizable Web Browser

I’ve been test driving Vivaldi, a new customizable web browser. I like it so far. It’s pretty zippy and allows you to customize a lot of things like the location of browser elements, stacking tabs and more. I’m curious to see how it integrates with other apps like Gmail, Dropbox, etc and if I will miss any of the Chrome plugins I’ve come to count on. Browse the features or just watch the video for a quick overview.


Appear.in: Dead Simple Video Meetings

Video conversations with up to 8 people for free. No login required — no installs. File this one under the “it just works” category.  Simple, fast and super handy.



As always, I’d love to hear how these work out if you try any of them. Have a great day!

7 Free Course/Content Hosting Options

7 Free Course/Content Hosting Options


This free solution only works if you use Articulate Storyline or Studio ‘13

Publish, Zip, Drag & Drop. Getting your course online could not be any easier. Go to tempshare.articulate.com tempshare.articulate.com


How It Works:

  1. Publish your Articulate course.
  2. Create a .zip file of the published course.
  3. Drag the .zip file to the Tempshare site.
  4. Once the course is done uploading, you’ll get a shareable  URL good which is good for 10 days.

Note the TEMP part of the name. This is just a temporary option, but it works great for testing, QA and anything else you don’t need a longer-term option for.


If you’ve had a Dropbox account for long enough, you can enable your Public folder and use that to host your elearning courses and other web content. Otherwise ,you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account before you can do that.

David Anderson walks you through how it works in this video.


Google Drive

Note that Google is planning to retire this function in August 2016

Google Drive is a great option that a lot of people have used to get their stuff online.

I’ve written up the steps along with a how to video over on the Elearning Heroes community.

1. From within the folder containing your published content, copy the characters after drive.google.com/#folders/  from the address bar as shown below.

Host Published Articulate Projects for Free With Google Drive

2. Then, to get the link you to use for sharing with others, paste those copied characters to the end of http://googledrive.com/host/ 

Host Published Articulate Projects for Free With Google Drive




While intended for developers and other coding pros, Github also has a pages feature which works really well for hosting web content and online courses that look like this: http://tmiket.github.io/

It takes a bit of work navigating the initial setup process and “getting” how it all works but once your up and running this is a pretty good free option.

Check out this nice guide to creating Github pages.

Amazon S3

Another great option, that takes a bit to get up and running. You get up to 5BG free and anything beyond that is super affordable. You’ll definitely want to use the free version of CloudBerry (or something similar) to make uploading and managing your files easier.

Check out Tom Kuhlman’s writeup on Amazon S3 and Cloudberry.  (He covers Google Drive, Dropox and a few others there too.)

These are all great to host porfolio items and share them with clients for review, etc but sometimes you might want to run them with LMS functionality. You also have a couple of good free options, for times like those.

Watch this video walkthrough for getting up to speed with Cloudberry.



If you’ve ever gone back and forth with a client about something that’s not working in their LMS and they blame your content, you will *LOVE* SCORM Cloud. If your courses run there, they are good and the problem is in the other LMS system.


Grab a free account with up to 5GB of space and get up an running in minutes. You can even put it behind a login with usernames and passwords if you need that kind of security.

Check out this info on troubleshooting with SCORM Cloud

Moodle Cloud

Another LMS option is Moodle Cloud. You’ll get your own full-fledged  learning system with 200MB of storage space for FREE. This version lets you do more than SCORM cloud but it isn’t as good for testing courses and it’s not super intuitive to use for administrators.


FInd out more and grab a free account at  https://moodle.com/cloud/

What about you? Are you using any of these? Something else? Let me know what is working for you or what challenges you’re facing.

Mindset Digital Podcast

Mindset Digital Podcast

My very talented colleagues at Mindset Digital have launched a podcast. It is working it’s way through the channels of all the popular podcast platforms including iTunes, Stitcher and others.

I’m excited to share our first episode which includes a useful “Tool Time” tip (at the 14:19 mark) about using RSS and a feed reader app to keep up with all the stuff you’re interested in.


My PKM Process

Shannon Tipton, recently asked if I could share my process for keeping up with the topics I’m interested in and how I curate the best thing that I find along the way.

Here is a video walking through my personal set up for keeping up, organizing and sharing — and doing it efficiently with a minimal time commitment.

I’ve been introducing these steps to my team here at Mindset Digital and have shared some tips for getting started with each step of the process:

I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments. And I’d love to hear what your process is too!


Social Bookmarking

Social Bookmarking

Harold Jarche has said that using social bookmarking could be  “…the simplest way to start sharing organisational knowledge.” and I totally agree. It’s also an easy way to get started with the concept of “Working Out Loud” and curation.

It is super easy to get started with social bookmarks and it’s only slightly different from what you’re already doing when you save bookmarks in your web browser. A few of  the benefits of social bookmarking include:

  • Moving your bookmarks online and accessible from anywhere instead of being locked in a single place/device. (If you’ve ever tried to remember a site you bookmarked at work while you were out of the office you can appreciate this one!)
  • The tagging feature makes them much easier to manage and find what you’re looking for. Unlike browser bookmarks which can only be in one folder, you can apply multiple tags to each link you save.
  • They can be private or public -it’s up to you.
  • Your public links are shareable

To see it in action take 2 minutes and watch this Common Craft Video “Social Bookmarking in Plain English


Back in the day I was a huge fan of Delicious, but after being sold and rebuilt I’ve never gone back. I use Diigo these days, which also has some nice additional features like highlighting, annotating, group sharing and others.

Pinterest is another option and Jane Bozarth has a good article on “Pinterest for L&D” that’s definitely worth checking out.

Here’s a downloadable, printable sheet on Social Bookmarking you can use for yourself or for sharing with others.



Where are your bookmarks? What do you like or dislike about where they are?