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Top 5 Tips When Using Screenshots in Learning Content

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? This couldn’t be more true when it comes to learning. If done properly pictures can help bring meaning and depth to content. While, in thought, taking a screenshot and plopping it into a course sounds easy, it comes with numerous challenges. However, never fear, here are the top 5 tips to keep in mind when using screenshots in your learning content!

  1. Capture screenshots during storyboard development.

It’s easy to put off taking screenshots to a later point in the development cycle, but a change in screenshot can have a ripple effect on the content. Decide what you want to show in the storyboard to ensure your content reflects the supporting screenshots.

Tip: If access to the software is an issue, consider recording a Webex working session with a SME and capturing screenshots from the recording. Keep in mind that the quality of these screenshots may not be great, so you’ll need to decide if it’s acceptable for your learning content.

  1. Take quality screenshots the first time.

Whether you use a customized screenshot tool, such as SnagIt, or the built-in snipping tool from Windows, keep the following in mind when taking screenshots to save yourself and your developers the painful task of retaking screenshots.

  • Ensure you know the best format for your document type. The difference between .jpg or .png can be substantial depending on your development platform.
  • Make sure the screen and browser is set to 100% resolution.
  • To ensure consistency in images, take all screenshots for a single module during the same session.
  • To share screenshots, copy and paste the screenshot into a Microsoft Word document at full size resolution. Do not shrink or crop the image as it will impact the quality. Do not send screenshots directly in an email message, as the size is often compressed, impacting the overall quality.
  1. Edit the image to make sure you’re not sharing personal information.

If a QA environment is available, use it. Otherwise, make sure all personal information is edited from the image and replaced with fictitious information.

Wait, what if the screenshots are from software that is still under development?

  1. Lock development at a specific software version.

If the software you’re working with is yet to be complete, have everyone involved select a version of the software that works within the schedule. However, keep in mind that the training will not 100% reflect the software. It’s okay for things to change. What matters is that the learner is given context of a solution before they’re required to use it.

  1. Capture all translated screenshots only after the English course is approved.

Translated screenshots may require dedicated time from specialized resources. To make the most of their time and yours, only request translated screenshots when you can provide the final approved English course for their reference.

There’s more to learn about screenshots, so stay tuned for our next post on Best Practices for Using Screenshots in Simulations!

Erin Wrigglesworth is an Instructional Designer at Innovatia and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) ®. Her 10+ years of experience in adult learning, include designing, writing, managing, and leading learning projects.

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