Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Getting Started with the Essential Pack in Raptivity

Rapid Development tools for online learning are generally designed to create complete sets of online courseware. They collate content, add navigation, and communicate with Learning Management Systems (LMS). They convert PowerPoint presentations or allow you to build content from scratch. Many of the tools have libraries of assets (imagery or audio), contain templates of content layouts and allow for creating test, survey or knowledge check questions. Because course creation tools have so much to do, one of the areas they generally lack in is creating creative and engaging interactions.Let’s face it, no one tool does everything well. Many tools do have a set of interactions to choose from, but these are often very limited in numbers, creativity and are generally not Section 508 compliant. It is up to the courseware developer to be creative and find unique ways to use the interactions. Ease of use, customization and available help are wanting for many of these interactions.

Raptivity is designed to create the interactions first and foremost. Once published, you then insert the interactions into the development tool of your choice. This gives you the best of both worlds; courseware with navigation, sequencing and communication with numerous LMS protocols, combined with creative and engaging interactions. Because the focus of the software is for non-programmers to create engaging interactions, Raptivity has a high level ease of use and has copious amounts of available information.

The Raptivity Essentials Pack is the baseline product from Harbinger Group. This software provides abundant interactions to choose from - 35 different interactions in 11 categories (Figure 1). Interactions are generally published as a single Flash (swf) file and HTML5 format. Published content, for Essential Packs interactions, are also compliant with Section 508 Accessibility Standards.
Figure 1 – Interaction categories in Raptivity Essentials Pack

The User Interface and Work Flow

All interactions follow the same work flow and have the same user interface. Each interaction has a complete set of information and descriptions which can be accessed from numerous avenues. This reduces the learning curve and assists in gathering the correct type of assets required thereby increasing efficiencies. In my experience, these are major factors in lowering production costs.

To create a new interaction, Open Raptivity, select New Interaction, from the Explorer View select Raptivity Essential Pack, expand a category and choose an interaction (Figure 2).


Figure 2 – Selecting a new interaction

Description, Preview and Information Screen

When you single click on an interaction type a description field appears in the window to the right. This includes a general description, screenshot, icons identifying publishing and development options, and more detailed information. The icons in the upper right hand corner identify that the interaction shown in Figure 3, can be published to HTML5, audio can be added, it has advanced editing options and it is Section 508 compliant. Each of these is very important for me as I can override default options, publish for numerous mobile devices and pass US Accessibility standards.

Figure 3 – Description, Preview and Information Screen for an interaction

Selecting the Information and checklist tab displays a gold-mine of information. You get a comprehensive description of the interaction along with identifiers for the advanced editing options. Options for Compliance with standards, Audios/Videos, Images and different tracking standards are identified. This particular example shows four icons representing, from left to right, that this interaction is HTML5 Enabled, Audio Enabled, has Enhanced Editing options, and is Section 508 compliant.

In the example shown in Figure 4, you can see compliance with SCORM versions 1.2 and 2004, as well as AICC and Tin Can. If you want to publish to HTML5, you’ll want to review the types of audio files recommended displayed in the “Audios – Videos” tab. The “Images” tab provides the information you will need in order to customize the look and feel of your interaction. Finally, the “Tracking” tab informs the developer the SCORM and Tin Can API calls made by default and what can be added.

This is information that in other development tools I could only find by digging into the User Guide or going to user forums. I use information like this when I create a Design Document for online courseware so my team knows exactly what will be needed with respect to Learning Management Systems integration, graphics development resources and for the instructional design of the content itself.

Figure 4 – Information and Checklist Screen

Once you’ve selected an interaction to customize, a wizard will appear. This is some of the more general information needed to initially set up the interaction for customization. Enter in your information. You will then be directed to the Detailed Customization Screen.

Detailed Customization Screen

There are five main panes in this screen: 1) Main Screen, 2) Information & Mobile Publishing Options, 3) Select Parameter, 4) Set Parameter Values, and 5) Notes. See Figure 5.



Figure 5 – The Detailed Customization Window

This is where you will spend most of your time while customizing your interaction. Customizing your interaction takes place using the right and center pane on the bottom area (Select Parameter and Set Parameter Values). If you don’t remember all the information from the Information and Checklist tab discussed earlier, don’t fret. The information will appear in the Notes pane when you are changing the values for different parameters.

What makes this development environment great for non-programmers is the “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) functionality. Both the Interactivity Editor and Quick View tabs provide this. Therefore when you are working in the “Select Parameters” and “Set Parameter Values” panes, your changes are automatically applied. You can even move text and other objects around in the “Interactivity Editor” in the main screen by dragging and dropping to a new location.

When I am in the working in the “Set Parameters Values” pane, especially in this interaction when I am setting all the Question parameters, I resize the panes so I can see more of the parameter information. To see the output, I then resize those panes. Figure 6 shows many the options for the questions.


Figure 6 - The Set Parameter Values pane resized

Summary

Quality interactions are a key in engaging learners in a thoughtful learning experience. Creating them is often not easy or inexpensive. A software tool designed solely around creating creative and engaging interactions can be attentive to the Instructional Systems Designer (ISD) in ways full online courseware tools can’t. The user interface and work flow, combined with multiple avenues to access required information free the ISD from worrying about the tool and allows them to be create inspiring learner engagements. Raptivity Essential Pack certainly fits this bill.

Next up – “Creating a Branching Question – Adaptive Type Interaction”.

Note: This blog has been posted by Raptivity Marketing Team on behalf of Greg Gardner.