When I first saw this newspaper article, I instantly turned over to the next page. Well, the article was a list of dos and don’ts, something that I don’t enjoy reading.
A couple of days after I had read the article, a thought struck me: What is the best way of making a person read through dos and don’ts? After tinkering with several ideas, I felt that the ‘Choice-and-Consequence’ strategy will work the best.
Moreover, if this strategy is combined with a story centring the learner, the dos and don’ts will go from being a passively read list to a high-stake activity.
I wanted to create a dos and don’ts list that will get the learner involved.
Weaving everything into the story
Most story-based e-learning modules that I have seen present the objectives and the recap/job aid as separate thing and the story as a separate thing. Nothing is wrong with having this kind of approach. However, I feel that if everything is woven into the story itself, then it is possible to:
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Fleshing out the Story
I decided to draw from my observations to flesh out the story. For instance, I have noticed that whenever someone talks about going on a vacation, or starting off with something new, the folks who receive this news usually share a tip/advice. I decided to start my story with a similar setting: the learner announces a vacation trip and gets advice on keeping house safe(exposition).
The story would then lead to a scene wherein the learner has to decide whether or not to heed to the advice (rising action). The decisions taken by the learner, in turn, would decide whether the learner’s house remained safe or not (climax). A character, who would be introduced during the early stage of the story, would provide the feedback (falling action) as well lead to the recap screen (resolution).
Presenting the Story
Once I had fleshed out the story, I moved on to how the story would play. For the exposition part, I first thought of having a scenario wherein the learner’s avatar tells colleagues about the vacation, and the colleagues offering advice. This approach had a problem: in real-life no one starts advising the moment you tell them about your plans. My scenario, therefore, looked artificial. Also, to build this scenario, I would have had to include characters that were not going to be used later in the course. So I ditched this approach.
Instead, I decided to use the technique of backstory that would inform the learner of the prior events. The backstory would then lead to the present day wherein the learner would have to take decision regarding the decisions. View the video given below to gain a better understanding of how I started with the backstory before leading the learner into the present moment.
Creating the Visuals
For this particular demo, I decided to have an image of a house (exterior as well as interior) as a backdrop throughout the course.
The only time the backdrop changes is when the learner has to take a decision. During this period, the learner just gets to see a human icon, which represents the learner. Also present are dialog boxes that are in reality options from which the learner has to choose.
I also decided to do away with the traditional next button. Instead a blinking arrow takes the learner from one slide to the next.
Adding a Conversational Touch
Since this demo made use of a story, I decided to have a conversational tone throughout the proceedings.
This meant that even the options exuded a conversational feel. It also made sense for the options to sport a conversational look because in real life too, you never use rigid sentences such as “I will do it” or “I will not do it” when someone offers you an advice. In fact, based on how you perceive the advice, you either display surprise, enthusiasm or indifference. I decided to capture these emotions in my options.
I wanted to present a very personalised experience to the learner. Naturally, I made use of a lot of variables to record and store data. For example, variables were used to store the learner’s name and favourite holiday spot. Likewise, variables were used to record the choices made by the learner. These variables were later used to customise the feedback given to the learner.
This demo, thus, relies on a story and variables to offer the learner an engaging and a personalised learning experience.