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Viewlet Program - an adventure in online education

Posted By Kirsten G. Locke CRA. OCT-C. RN. FOPS, Friday, May 11, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 11, 2012

My personal experience with making an interactive education module for the OPS

When the OPS was first invited to join ACTIONed, the Board of Education was excited about finally having a place to offer online education for our members. However, after doing some research and seeing some of the fancy interactive modules available, I personally wanted more than just plain old PowerPoint presentations or "talking heads” from recordings during an Educational Program.

The weekend after our board meeting I started to search on the web for some kind of module making tools that could offer situations where the viewer have some control of the event in the module. The challenge was that I do not have any programing skills and would need something that would work similar to PowerPoint but with extra features.

What I found was company called Qarbon. Qarbon has several products and their Flagship is Viewlet Builder Enterprise. It looked like this program was the answer to my desires but I wanted to be sure and started to investigate and experiment. Luckily, Qarbon offers a free download of all their products and the software version is completely functional with one exception; when publishing a flash file with the final result, an unlicensed version will have a Qarbon watermark in the center of the screen – unless the flash file is published on Qarbon’s website directly. It is a place called Viewlet Central and anyone can create their own account, free of charge, and upload a maximum of two modules at one time. The system gives you a link to the module, which you can share with anyone. Qarbon can be found at

This setup allowed me to freely experiment and over the following few months I worked on convincing my fellow Board Members that this program was a jewel. The Board of Directors approved the purchase of one license for the program and I started developing my first official OPS module, "Intro to Fundus Photography, an Interactive Guide” which is now available on ACTIONed.

Viewlet Builder 7 Enterprise Workspace. Left column=slide selector. Center field=current slide workspace. Bottom=timeline controller. Right column=function icons.


The program has many fun tools to draw the viewer into the module. Everything is done by selecting function icons (see picture of Viewlet workspace above) and just in minutes you can have an animated and exciting learning tool. Absolutely no programing necessary – it just takes logic. You can assign specific actions, display text or images by just moving the mouse cursor to a redefined area of the screen of a live module. This is called "rollover” area. For my "intro” module, I decide to demonstrate the functions of the different button, knobs and dials on the fundus camera by adding rollover areas over each control seen on an image of a fundus camera. When the viewer examines the camera with the mouse cursor and points to a control, text and images will appear and stay there as long as the cursor remains in place. Because the mouse cursor can only be at one place at the time, text and images for one control can be displayed in the same location as all the other controls. If I wanted to include a more in-depth explanation of a particular function, I would add a "click” option to the rollover area that would take the viewer to a different page containing more information. To see how this works in the finished module, play around with the small demo of the controls for a Dark-adaptation unit called SST-1.

Roll-over zones, where text and pictures will appear and disappear as the mouse cursor moves in and out from a predefined area


All the fundus camera vendors were very helpful in providing me with high quality images of the current cameras and many fellow OPS members sent me pictures taken with those cameras. I could not have done this module without their help.

Question types available within Viewlet Builder Enterprise

Another fun tool is the "drag and drop” question. Viewlet has several options for adding questions, quizzes and survey options to your project. I thought that it would be a great tool for teaching the anatomy of the eye. It is hard to really describe how this works so the best way is to show you. Click on the link below to see a small demonstration. You will be asked to "grab” the blue labels marked with retinal orientation names – superior nasal, temporal, inferior ect. You then have to "drop” it in the correct location on the retinal composite. Because my module is intended to be educational, I also provided the option of seeing the correct answers and to turn them off again. Additionally, I gave hints to guide without giving away the answer. Give it a go! Drag-n-Drop sample

Besides all the standard tools of shapes, arrows, text boxes, images, sounds and the special tools of rollover, click zones, drag-and-drop, zoom in, and pop-ups you can also record a video sequence from any program on a computer where the Viewlet program is installed. In preparation for my Viewlet lecture I gave at the Annual Program in Orlando 2011, I made a small demo of that function by recording the steps it takes to change the file size of an image in Photoshop. By having both programs running at the same time, I can tell Viewlet to record everything I do in the other program running in the background. After the recording is finished I can expand and edit using all the tools available in the program. Click here to see the result of that experiment. Please be sure to turn on your sound so you can hear my voice recording which I did with the Viewlet sound interface within the program. Recording Sample

Just imagine what you can do by recording the computer screen while doing an OCT scan or an FA SLO procedure. What a great teaching tool!

Video tutorials available on Qarbon's website.
All are made with the Viewlet program


Sound recorder interface. Record a sound directly from a microphone or upload a saved sound file.


One way where PowerPoint works better than Viewlet is with animations. I had a cool animation in PowerPoint that demonstrated how the inside of the fundus camera works and how the light travels through the optical path from the light sources to the patient and on to the photographer or computer. I wanted to use this animation in my "intro” module, so I used the "video capture” to record the animation, saved it as a flash file and imported it as a movie into my module.

If you want to use bullets and graphic from Word, just copy and paste into a text box in Viewlet.

I knew nothing about this program when I started but Qarbon has loads of tutorials available on their website and an excellent searchable PDF User Guide available directly within the program.

Many of the functions are similar to PowerPoint, so if you know your way around PowerPoint, you will feel at home very quickly within Viewlet. Qarbon’s support system is also very user friendly and they are very responsive in helping you out if you get stuck with a problem. When I made the "Recording Sample" you viewed earlier, I had a problem with the sound keeping to loop at the end of the module even though I told it not to. I emailed Customer Service and they reported back within 24 hours that it was a bug and they would look into it. Three days later I received a link with a new version of the software and the bug was fixed.

I wish more members of the OPS would step forward and try their hand at creating an educational module with this program. The OPS would like to have several core ophthalmic imaging courses available on ACTIONed. Doing this with PowerPoint is also possible, but sitting through an online lecture just listening is not as exciting as being the conductor of the module and be able to control how much time you wish to spend on something. In my "intro” module, the viewers can learn things at their own pace and repeat any section as many times as they need.

If you are interested in designing a module, please talk to me or comment on this page. I would love to welcome you into the Viewlet family. The Viewlet program is available to anyone and is just a download away. Remember, you do not need a license to get started.

Kirsten Locke, RN., CRA., FOPS.

Chair, Board of Education & Online Education Committee

Tags:  ACTIONed  blog  Interactive  Meaningful Use  PDC  Professional Development Committee  Qarbon 

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Comments on this post...

Tom Reeves CRA COT says...
Posted Friday, May 11, 2012
This is really great! I love learning about new tools to build projects, and if I wasn't so busy with my last term at college I would definitely be interested in learning Qarbon. I'll bookmark it and get back to you. Thanks for an informative post, Kirsten!
Permalink to this Comment }

Kirsten G. Locke CRA. OCT-C. RN. FOPS says...
Posted Friday, May 11, 2012
Hi Tom,

I think you will really like it. When I first started working with it, I sat for 14 hours straight without pause putting together a small sample to show the board. I just could not let go of it.

Maybe you will have some time over the summer!

Permalink to this Comment }

James Soque CRA OCT-C COA FOPS says...
Posted Monday, May 14, 2012
Hi Kirsten,
This looks absolutely amazing!
I'm blown out of the water.
Have to review it again and again, but,
I think everyone that masters it should
get one CME credit. (just kidding!)
PS: I hate Mondays, too busy!
Thank you again for researching the Qarbon tool,
Permalink to this Comment }

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