I recently posted a question in the Articulate Community forum in which I asked for others’ suggestions on Building a Course without Audio. I was specifically looking for ideas to make a course more engaging when audio isn’t an option. In a previous job at a hospital system, our main learning audience was nurses. The majority of these nurses had to complete any/all learning on-the-job, which often meant at the nurses’ station between seeing patients. Not the most conducive learning environment. One major constraint this put on development was not being able to use audio in the courses. I received a lot of great responses from the Articulate Community including: adding more interactivity via Engage interactions, character pop-ups, thought bubbles and expert-novice conversations. By the way, if you use Articulate and aren’t part of the community, RJ Jacquez explains why you should join and I agree wholeheartedly. And while you’re at it, check out RJ’s site. He has a wealth of experience and a lot of great tips and tutorials.
All of the Community responses are great ideas, and honestly I have thought about and/or used most of them. As a learning moment for myself, I decided to take one of my early Articulate modules and try to spice it up a bit. Admittedly, I knew at the time that it was pretty boring and required a lot of reading and page turning. However, it was one of my first attempts in Articulate. There was also the dreaded deadline that was looming. I’m pretty proud of the design and comic book look that I created at the time. I would, of course, change a lot of the “look and feel” parts if I had it to do over again. But, hindsight is 20/20 right?
I didn’t completely re-do the entire module as I don’t have the assets, SME access, etc. I chose to look at five of the old slides and give them a revamp. I could have done a lot more had I added audio. But, I wanted to keep that as a restriction to see what I could come up with.
I’ll refer to the original as “Old Slide X” and the revised as “New Slide X.” Old Slide 1 was pretty flat. I was going for the comic book cover feel, which admittedly, was probably lost on the majority of my audience.
Old Slide 2 was the set-up for the learners, the “why” of the module.
I decided to combine these two into New Slide 1. I kept some of the comic book cover feel, but tried to draw the learner in a little more with the “Featuring: YOU!” section.
Old Slide 3 was the description of SWAT. Again, I felt it was pretty flat.
I added some animations (text flying in – see published file at end of post) on New Slide 2 and made it more visually striking.
In the original module, there were 4 different scenarios the learner worked through. We originally had it linear so they had to go through each one. In New Slide 3, I gave the learner more control by setting up branching options and letting them decide where to start. Given more time, I probably would have tried to animate the doors (hmmm, another project).
Old Slide 4 was the starting point for the Pressure Wound scenario. While I gave it that comic book feel, it was still just a bunch of text on the screen. Read the process steps and advance to the next slide.
The gist of the module was teaching the learners the new process and the new electronic forms they would document. In the old module, I separated these, giving them the process and then showing the forms at the end of each scenario. In New Slide 4 I changed a lot. I added the “panel” look of comic books. I set up a conversation between the nurse and the SWAT nurse and added description when necessary. Finally, I had the learner click a laptop to see how the form is documented. Adding the link on the process slide tied the process and forms together more cohesively.
Finally, after clicking “Next” on Old Slide 4, an Engage interaction opened with samples of the documentation forms.
While this was interactive in that it got the learner clicking, interaction doesn’t equal engagement. This was a case of clicky-clicky bling-bling. I struggled with this one, trying to figure out a way to use Engage. The problem was I was limiting myself rather than stepping back and looking at the big picture. In the vain of connecting the process with the forms, I built a lightbox effect so that it looks as though the learners are still on the process slide with the lightbox overlay. I like the look of this much better than just slapping the form images in Engage. After the learner finishes viewing the form and the documentation steps, he/she clicks Close and is directed back to the 4 door slide to pick another scenario.
After closing the lightbox, the typical effect returns the user back to the screen they were previously on. I thought about doing this, but then I would have had to add another click to get back to the 4 door scenario slide. Plus, that extra click would have added more of the “page-turner” feel, which I was trying to avoid.
Here is a link to the new published module (at least the first 5 slides anyway).
So, there you have it. I hope you can find something useful in this post. I highly encourage everyone to try this. It helped me sharpen my skills and think about learner experience and engagement. It was also nice to revisit an old project and reflect upon the choices made and come up with some new ideas. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t often had the luxury to go back and look at something again once it’s done. It seems like a lot of the time we churn stuff out and go on to the next project without much thought. Here’s to reflection.