‘A session of facial exercise’ was how my friends and I referred to a lecture of Economics. That’s because we would yawn and yawn during the entire lecture. And no, my Economics professor was not to be blamed. She did all that she could; she taught with gusto and interspersed the lecture with anecdotes. Our yawns, however, simply refused to die. The only time my professor could reign in the yawns was when she used coloured chalks and drew graphs to explain economic concepts. Clearly, visuals — graphs in this case — proved to be a great way of bringing alive a theory-laden subject. Also, we acquired a greater understanding of the concepts when the explanation was paired with visual aids.
When I sat down to create a module on inflation, I decided to make an animated module, which addressed the needs of both visual and auditory learners.
Creating Conceptual Images:
Since this module was often going to refer to concepts such as raw materials, goods and services, demand, supply to name a few, I thought of creating conceptual images that depicted things generally associated with a particular concept.
For example, think of the term ‘raw materials’ and the images of cement sacks, chemical-filled barrels and drums line up in one’s mind. Hence, I included images of drums, barrels and sacks to create an image representing raw materials.
Creating the Introductory Hook:
From a housewife to a corporate executive, everyone complains about price rise. The bottom line is that although inflation is a hard-core economics topic, it is very much a part and parcel of our lives. I felt that if I show the learners the situations they encounter in their everyday life, perhaps, a hard-core economics topic will acquire a hue of everydayness.
So, I went ahead and created images of daily-life situations involving inflation. To further pique the learners’ interest, I decided to share with them an interesting fact – inflation existed during the Roman times –I had stumbled on while researching on the topic. The idea was to bind the present and the past and thereby arouse the learner’s curiosity about inflation. After all, if someone tells you that an economic phenomenon that existed during the reign of the Romans also continues to occur in the modern world, you are bound to ask “Why? What causes that phenomenon in the first place?”
Creating the Visual Flow:
During my stint with Next Education – where I got an opportunity to create several animated modules – I learnt that modules with a seamless visual flow are highly effective with learners. By seamless visual flow, I mean that images should lead into each other in a rhythmic manner rather than just appearing and disappearing. Also, the images should finally come together to form a kind of visual replica of the concept being taught.
For example, to depict the scene wherein an increase in government spending results in more jobs and subsequently a rise in demand for goods and services, I decided to first show human silhouettes followed by an image of a good/service over few of the silhouettes. To see an example of visual flow, check the video given below.
Creating the Animations:
Creating animations entirely in Articulate Storyline was a major challenge I faced while creating this module. Initially, I used effects such as fade, wipe, and float for animating screen elements. However, the end result was not satisfactory. It was then that I started experimenting with features such as ‘State’ and ‘Motion Paths’ to animate the screen elements as per my desire. Take a look at the video titled ‘Animation in Articulate Storyline’ to see how motion paths and states were used to create animation in Articulate Storyline.
Adding Elements of Gamification:
After finalising the introduction, I thought that it will be a good idea to end the module with another interesting fact, which most of us witness during their lifetime, but never really link it to inflation. However, I wanted the learner to ‘earn’ this interesting fact by going through all the topics, and this is where two gamification elements, badges and content unlocking, came handy.
Now, the menu displayed the topics on silver coins. I thought that if these silver coins were to turn into gold whenever the learners go through a topic/sub-topic, the gold coins would then act as badges indicating the learner’s progress.
Also, the first time that the learners convert a silver coin into a gold coin, I felt that it will be a good idea to give a feedback –in the form of cheers and a textual message –to motivate the learners and let them know that if they convert all the silver coins into gold, an interesting fact will be revealed; content unlocking was at work over here. Moreover, this feedback would pop without warning, just to make the learner’s experience more interesting.
This module, thus, interweaves sound and simple animations with elements of gamification to provide a visual explanation of a text-heavy topic.