Designing a “Dual-Mode” Course!

When dealing with K12 providers, one of the common issues we need to address is the need to have teaching aids in the course. Most of the time, we create two versions of the course – one for the learner, without the teaching aids, and one with the aids, for the teacher. We recently completed a course for a K12 provider who needed to teach kids a chapter of history using World War II photographs as a medium.

We used a neat trick in this course that helped us to identify exactly what features needed to be stripped off for the student version of the course – We simply created a dual-mode course! All the teaching aids for the course were accessible through a button, so the student version simply had that button disabled!

We didn’t need to create the same course twice, and we could easily identify what information needed to be given as teaching aids. This also allowed the teacher to concentrate on going through the course using the teaching aids alone, while the students focused on the content that was being taught. You may ask, how can the teacher ignore the content being taught? They don’t!

Curious to learn more? Write to

Platform-Agnostic Interactive eBook: The Next Big Thing is Here!

This blog post covers insights into the emerging trend of platform-agnostic interactive eBook. We will discuss the following questions in this blog post:

  • Why to make eBooks “interactive”? What are the benefits of the interactive version?
  • What types of eBook are most effective in the interactive avatar?
  • Any difference in the development process of interactive eBook from the conventional version?
  • How much interactive eBook would cost, compared to its conventional version?
  • Finally, why it’s the next big thing?

eBooks are one of the most widely used formats for consuming digital content. And in its current form it’s very easy to produce as well – at the simplest, just make a PDF and that’s it! eBook readers were used to these flat page turners, until iPad came along. Today, devices like iPad and the whole world of tablets have opened up a great opportunity for eBook readers to “experience” the content, by virtue of innovative interactive means, and not just “read” it. Interactive eBook is a new paradigm.

eBooks are all around us, for all types of content – be it trade publications, or educational content. Out of these two, educational eBooks are best suited for interactive version. Imagine reading about various forms of triangles and actually “constructing” them as you read. Or, instead of just reading about the human anatomy, you are able to keep labeling various parts of a human body and test your learning. There are unlimited possibilities to bring alive the eBook with the help of learning interactions and multi-media elements.

Want to experience interactive eBook first hand? Write to to see some great examples. Alternately, you could listen to Bijoy showcasing interactive eBooks @ the Learning Technologies 2013 conference [London, 29-30 Jan 2013, Stand # 15] or meet Bijoy @ the Tools of Change 2013 conference [New York, 12-14 Feb 2013, Booth # 104].

Development process of the interactive educational eBook is not different from the conventional process of developing interactive educational content. Starting point remains with subject matter and the learning goals. Next is instructional design process, to create storyboards and to identify the interactive and multi-media elements to be in the eBook, and finally authoring the eBook, packaging and publishing. For interactive eBook developers, good news is that no new learning curve is needed. But yes, as far as authoring and packaging of the eBook is concerned, the development platform / language / tool would depend upon whether the eBook would require supporting multiple devices & platforms, or a particular or proprietary device / platform. HTML5 is by far the most preferred option, since it allows the output to become accessible on multiple devices & platforms. But, other tools such as iBook author could also be suitable if the eBook to be made specifically for the iOS platform. Are you curious to know if your current development process can support producing interactive eBook? Write to for guidance.

Alright! So far we have discussed the educational benefits of interactive eBooks and that developers won’t necessarily need to learn anything new to produce interactive eBooks. But, now the real business viability question: would it cut a deep hole in the pocket, both for the developers as well as for the customers? Well, it would cost more than producing a flat PDF for sure, but how much more, that would entirely depend upon the level of interactivity and multi-media elements. Have a question about how much your eBooks may cost to turn them interactive? Write to for help.

So, should you or should you not invest in interactive eBook? Let’s remember only this: there are already millions of children and adult in the world [and the number is growing rapidly, everyday!] who are now used to the highly enriched, engaging and interactive experience of consuming digital content. Flat page turner won’t cut it for them anymore. So, be prepared to give them what they want before they reject what you have to offer!

The Customizable Product Training Framework

I spoke about this framework in my earlier blog and thought I would detail it out at this point.

A quick recap – Training people about any product and its features is an integral part of the product life cycle, be it at product development stage, its introduction in the market or its growth. At each phase of the product life cycle, there are various people to train – sales and marketing, technical support staff, customer support staff, the consumers, resellers, solution consultants, to name a few. You also need to update the courseware with every product update and upgrade.
All this training can be quite expensive!
With our many years of experience in product training design and development for customers all over the world, we at Harbinger have formulated a unique solution that gives a rare blend of easy customizability, production expertise and a templatized approach that helps crunch the training cost!
We call this the Customizable Product Training Framework and devised it in three steps.

Step 1: The Product Training Taxonomy

Product Training Taxonomy - Extract
Product Training Taxonomy - Extract

We studied and put together the integral requirements for product training which

  • identifies various training audiences
  • describes the training objective for each
  • lists what the training should cover
  • identifies the effective training modality for the content

We call this the “Product Training Taxonomy” and an excerpt from the complete taxonomy is given here.

Step 2: The Product Training Courseware Model

Product Training Units
Product Training Units

We then detailed the content coverage that will meet each course objective for each audience and broke this down by audience type and content to be covered. An excerpt of this “Product training courseware model” is given here.

Step 3: The Product Training Courseware Templates
We then studied and identified the types of screens, interactivities, exercises and assessment question types which would be typically used in product training programs and built the various screen templates that could be used to teach these content units. The templates were built using the universally accepted and easy-to-update Flash-XML architecture. In this, we have put in all the “variable” elements of a course, like graphics, audio, on-screen text etc, in XML, which can be easily updated using simple XML editors like Notepad. The “constant” elements like the user interface have been designed in Flash.

The Result
The result of this extensive thought process was a framework that allows you to do all of the following – rapidly and cost effectively:
1. Build a single product training course for multiple audiences – from sales force to consumers
2. Build multiple courses for different products based on the first product training course
3. Update the courses with each product upgrade
4. Localize the courses into multiple languages for a global reach

Write to us at for more details!

6 Product Training Courses – At The Cost and Speed of One!

You see new products being launched in the market everyday – mobile phones, drugs, insurance policies or new service offerings. Have you ever wondered what determines a product’s success? Is it the market research that went into identifying the right product? Its top of the class features, design, packaging, branding or effective selling? It’s probably the right mix of all these! But there is one more crucial factor – ensuring that the right information about these products is available to the right people at the right time. In other words – effective training!

To ensure product success, you need to ensure that your sales force, customer support and marketing teams, resellers, technical support teams and even your prospective and existing customers are well trained on the product throughout its lifecycle. However, design and development of courseware can be expensive, especially if you have to keep updating it with product updates and upgrades! So how do you get product training that’s cost effective, can be rapidly developed and made to reach a wide audience in a short time frame?

With our vast experience in building product training courseware over the past several years, our instructional designers and technical architects have put together a “framework” that:

  1. identifies the training objectives for each audience type
  2. details the course coverage to meet those objectives and
  3. identifies the training modality that would work most effectively for each

We then built a customizable course architecture and a set of templates that will be typically used to teach and present content in a product training course. These have been designed to show product features, product installation and configuration, product USPs and such information that you’d want to teach about your product.

So with your design all laid out and ready to use, your development becomes quicker, more cost effective and easier to manage – thus reducing your costs!

Sounds like what you wanted? Get in touch with us to know how we can make this framework work for you!