How Not to Use Articulate


This CPR course won the Gold Medal in the Articulate Guru Awards. I’m not sure why. It goes against everything Ruth Clark (and others) teaches about cognitive load. Either they didn’t get very many entries, or the judges only cared about how many Articulate features the course used.

Check out this slide:

How Not to Use Articulate

In addition, there are four – I repeat, FOUR – different kinds of audio going on at the same time. WTF!

  1. Background music
  2. Background audio from emergency calls (looped)
  3. Video audio (sirens)
  4. Narration

All that content is competing for attention from your brain, which means very little of it is going to stick.

I understand if the judges gave the award only for “effective use of product features.” However, the rules page has the second bullet as “Effectiveness of course content to transfer knowledge,” which this course clearly lacks.

Anyhow, this is just a reminder to make sure your content, and how you present that content, whether in a course, or in a website, or in classroom training, is useful, concise and is not there just so you can say you used every tool in your toolbox.

5 thoughts on “How Not to Use Articulate

  1. i'm glad i'm not the only one who thought some of those entries were a bit suspect. i completely agree with what you said, and think this contest entry is representative of how people often try to use every little doodad/feature in a development tool instead of focusing on the quality of instruction. rapid elearning development tools, like any creative tool, require a certain amount of discipline and restraint. this course was way too busy for my tastes.

  2. And yet I watched this program and learned something (or rather, had previous knowledge refreshed and updated). Three days later, I have retained the fact that CPR now requires 30 compressions (as opposed to the old 15). So something worked.

  3. I agree with what you say, I even preach the cognitive load concept myself. Somehow I overlooked it in the course when I took it and actually found the course well done. Maybe because the issues you highlight were not present through the actual instruction portions of the training, I can’t remember.

    That said, I really liked the Bronze winner. I’ve seen more than my share of snoozers over the years and that course did a really good job of lightening up really boring material. I can’t say I’ve ever laughed (in a good way) during a compliance course before this. Nice work!

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