Thursday, June 25, 2015

What an Instructional Designer can Learn from a Parent?

Parents are known as instructors. Isn’t it?  They keep instructing kids about good and bad habits, things to do and not to do, pros and cons of something - the list is endless. I too am a parent of a six year old beautiful daughter - Pari. Just like most of the parents, I too keep instructing her on something or the other, all the time. But, over time, I have realized that she learns from something which I had never thought of – bed time stories. Yes! We all have heard these stories from our parents. Let me tell you an interesting incident which happened few weeks back.

Pari loved to eat a particular cookie (till the time of the incident) which is not supposed to be very good for children’s health. She used to finish a complete packet almost every day. I constantly used to tell her not to eat so many of them. But, she never listened. One night when it was time for her bed time story, I told her a very thoughtful one. You want to hear it too? Here it goes…

Once there was a cute little boy who was seven years old. He had many friends and he loved to play with them. He also loved the same cookies as Pari did. He used to have 10 to 12 of them daily. One day while playing, suddenly his stomach started hurting and he couldn’t play at all. He felt sick. His mother rushed him to the doctor. The doctor asked, “What did you eat today?” He said, “I had a pack  of my favourite cookies”. The doctor said that having so many cookies had caused this problem. He injected the boy, asked him to take rest, and instructed no play for one week. The boy realized that those cookies were not so good for his health. The cookies even led him to stop going out to play with his friends. He stopped eating them.

That was the end of the story and we slept. Next day morning, when Pari was having her morning cuppa of milk, I served her the cookies assuming she would demand for them like every day. To my delight, she asked “Mom, don’t we have any other cookies? I don’t like these.” I know you too are smiling, just like I was at that moment. The story had done its job even without me telling her anything.

That’s the skill every instructional designer can learn from parents - converting a boring instructional content piece into a story by:
  1. Having characters which learner can easily relate to
  2. Including events or problems, actions, consequences, climax and resolution
  3. Dramatizing the story to make it interesting
  4. Connecting it with elements or objectives which matter to the learner
  5. Crafting  the end of the story carefully with a conclusion but without too many obvious instructions
The learner would then find the content engaging, motivating and above all, would never forget it

Happy Storytelling :)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Linear or Non-Linear? Which eLearning Design Approach works well?

There are many studies, blogs and articles available on the internet about linear and non-linear design of eLearning. There are multiple advantages and disadvantages of each approach over the other. In this post, I’m going to talk about the approach I like the most.

I am not a great fan of the next/previous page pedagogical style. Clicking next on a computer gives me a feel of reading an online version of the book. As an Instructional Designer, I feel there is a need to enhance any e-learning environment in which the educator’s pedagogical experience is preset into the design. Generally, I strive towards making the computer based learning content non-linear so that learners can traverse their own path during their independent study. I also tend to use a lot of interactions in the process of making a course interactive.

However, this does not imply that linear courses are not effective and interactive. Linear courses have their own advantages and can be equally engaging for the learners. Some learners have difficulty with lack of structure and perform poorly in a non-linear environment. But practically, not all e-learning courses need to follow a rigid approach. In fact, my favorite approach is the blended approach; I like my learners to experience a blend of both linear and non-linear environments. I like my learners to explore, pull in content, and make decisions.

According to the study conducted on Students’ Preferences, learners’ preferred learning path (linear or non-linear) depends on their personal characteristics such as their age, perceptions on problem solving, teacher or self study preferences, familiarity with the windows based computer applications, gender and preferred way of learning.

You can give your learners a blended learning experience through linear instructions, assessments, clear introduction, guided learning path and non-linear elements such as drill and practice, user friendly navigation and branching scenarios. The key here is to choose which parts of your course content to be presented as linear and which as non-linear, and also making the course interactive. With limited recourses, creating interactive courses can be a challenge. I tend to incorporate ready to use interaction templates that can be customized as per my course needs.

Making a course linear or non-linear depends on various factors such as course objectives, nature of the content/subject matter, project scope, technology infrastructure and target audience. What is your opinion about the blended approach? Which approach do you personally prefer? 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Integrating Raptivity Output with Captivate using the Multi-SCORM Packager

Recently, one of our customers had a requirement to track Raptivity interactions within Captivate. Captivate doesn’t expose methods by which it can track any outside SCORM objects within it. However, it does support a Multi-SCORM packager which one can use to track different SCORM packages together.

Here is a short video which would explain the steps of tracking Raptivity SCORM output (both Flash and HTML5 output) using the Multi-SCORM packager utility of Captivate 8.
Hope you find it useful. Do write to for any queries regarding this utility.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Webinar - The Art of Storyboarding

Storyboard is like the blueprint of an eLearning course. Instructional designers and course creators mostly intend to create a good storyboard for their courses but something or the other hinders them. At times, it is their inexperience which leads to the apprehension of laying out all their content properly into the storyboard, sometimes it is the fear that the storyboard might not be interpreted correctly by their team members. At times, some of them fear that the storyboard might make their course too linear. Whatever be the stopping factor, storyboard is actually central to eLearning course development. 

Laying out content easily and effectively into any storyboard requires the complete know-how of all course elements, course objective and even knowledge of some tools. Most people find getting started with their storyboard the most difficult part in the whole storyboarding process. They are stuck right at the onset. To answer all such apprehensions and queries related to storyboarding, Raptivity brings to you an exclusive session on ‘The Art of Storyboarding’.

The session will be conducted by Desiree Pinder - Executive Director/Founder – Artisan eLearning. Desiree is also one of the founding members on Raptivity’s Interactive Learning Thought Leaders Panel. Through the session, she will guide attendees through the key nuances of storyboarding like 
Top mistakes people make when storyboarding and how to avoid them, 
Tips on setting up the course canvas
Tools that can be used for storyboard writing 

We will also give away a sample storyboard template to all attendees, which could be used by anyone involved in course creation.

This complementary webinar will take place on June 25th, 2015 at 10:00 AM PST. You may register here to attend it. For more details on the session, visit

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Gamification in eLearning: Touching Base

When Microsoft introduced Windows 3.1, it also introduced the mouse. The hurdle for a DOS-trained computer user was two-fold; the screen displayed visual icons and a new way to move. To overcome resistance, Microsoft installed Solitaire as part of the operating system. Users learned how to use the mouse by playing a familiar game. Play harder; increase mouse skills.

Games Increase Skill, but Why?
We all know that gaming is serious business to the person in play. They are in "the zone." I believe that zone is the momentum of almost mastering a skill. Master it and boredom sets in unless there is a new challenge.

Games Encourage Both Collaboration and Competitiveness
Players help each other improve and yet relish in comparing themselves to each other. One doesn't have to win to feel validated or to earn respect (but it's nice, yes). 

Applying in a Learning Environment
Gamification doesn’t need to be elaborate to promote engagement. You can simply introduce features that would appeal to two types of players: explorers (risk takers) and achievers (reward-seekers).
  • Explorers learn from decision/consequence scenarios. They would also appreciate earning extra information (the educational version of a key or a treasure map).
  • Achievers are motivated by scores—not just grading, but also timing. They would respond well to a series of rapid-fire questions that gives an overall score. They would also be interested in how they are doing compared to other users, so providing a best score gives them a very high goal.
For each type of learner, there are two more categories: new and experienced. Therefore, it is important that the course be of use to each type.

Developing instructions clear enough for a new, possibly uncertain learner will help ensure their successful learning outcome. The instructions should also include a description of how the complexity will increase. This will satisfy the experienced learner that the course’s gaming features will not stay at the beginner level.

A Brilliant Gamification Strategy: Own It
By incorporating gamification into elearning courses, like Microsoft did with solitaire, course providers can attract more users to their product. It just takes a little thought about what types of learners will be taking the course and how to best meet their gaming needs.

About Author:
Susan Wines, eLearning Specialist

Experienced in all phases of creating eLearning courses, I find authors (subject matter experts), apply instructional design principles to course content, improve courseware processes, train internal teams worldwide, troubleshoot, publish, and then engage in social media representing our brand. I work in HTML, XML, and create interactive learning content using flash/HTML5, and videos—even whiteboard.

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