Using Course Interface as an Engagement Tool!

Course interfaces tend to become a bit monotonous these days. This has become even more common with the use of rapid interaction authoring tools, where the Graphical User Interface (GUI) is only customizable as far as their colors. The form, the shape, and method of interaction are all features that still need to be individually programmed and created from the ground up when they are needed.

We recently completed a course for a K12 provider who wanted to teach kids a chapter of history through the use of World War 2 photographs. Most of the solutions available had interfaces featuring Back and Next buttons, maybe fancy page number panels, or perhaps a spin-wheel with the various pages on them. There was nothing that could be used to blend into a story and give a more environmental connection to the content that was to be taught in the course.

Then it hit me! I remembered the old View-Masters we used to have and how we used to spend so much time as kids looking at various places or photographs through them, and thought to myself “Why can’t kids today experience the same thing?” Right there was the interface we were looking for! What better way to have attention focused on the photographs that were to be used as a medium for teaching this chapter on history? We created the course with this vision, if you’ll pardon the pun, and needless to say, the kids loved it!

We created a GUI that made it look like the learner was viewing the photographs on a View-Master, with the tip of the circular view-disk peeking out from the top. Clicking buttons on either side of the disk allowed the learner to move ahead. The content to be taught is accessed through push-buttons built onto the View-Master frame, allowing the learner to view the story behind the photograph as well as the things to be discussed regarding the photograph.

Want to share any such “WOW” moment in your course design? Post your comment here or write to info@harbingerknowledge.com.

Presenting Boring Content…

We often talk about “making” a course interactive or engaging, but how can we approach content that is not engaging in itself? “Converting” flat and uninspired page-turners into something that actually engages and retains the learner’s interest is not as easy as it seems, and we learned this the hard way. This would be best demonstrated by explaining how we worked on one of our courses.

The job seemed simple enough when it first came to us – a course explaining company policies. A drab page-turner made in Powerpoint, the content was capable of putting even the Instructional Designers to sleep! The content was vital and important information, to be sure, but if it failed to interest the teacher, how would it ever engage the learner?

The content that came already used some interactivities created in Articulate Engage, and was published using Presenter. But those interactivities were as engaging as pressing a “Next” button that appeared in different places on the screen. Let’s face it – Tabs and Process interactivities are still page-turners of sorts. Do we add more of these interactivities? Maybe turn some of the content into interactive diagrams or a “click-and-reveal”? That would only serve to reduce the number of screens in the course, not make it any more interesting than it was. The solution had to be much more radical.

We were eager to try out some branching scenarios, but the scenarios given didn’t leave room for much engagement, and neither did the final seat-time of the course permit us to use some creative stories or building up and elaborate atmosphere. Using Articulate Storyline, we managed to hit on a solution that gave a most beautifully interactive way of navigating through the course. Since we couldn’t use branching scenarios with what we were given, we decided to turn the entire course into one big scenario!

We used a scenario where it’s the learner’s first day at the company (which it very well might have been in real life), and they are being given a tour of the office. This allowed us to place each module in a separate virtual location, each one in a different “room” in the office. Just like an office, the learner is free to move between the various rooms, creating a non-linear navigation for the course.

We often use mentors or guides to better engage the learner, but with the scenario of several rooms, we managed to get closer to creating the office environment – we had no less than 5 different mentors in our course! Each mentor guided the learner through a different set of rooms, creating an effect of that person having expertise in that area, just like a real office!

The content itself was presented as a visual treat. The various “rooms” allowed to us have different backgrounds for each module, and have the content appear in styles that was similar to what you would find in that “room”. We created “click-and-reveal” interactivities on non-Engage screens, with various visual effects, giving some more interactive opportunities for the learner.

Where the original course was interactive with “sit-and-stare” Powerpoint screens in between, the new course tied them together into a beautiful bundle that was engaging and interactive even on non-Engage screens.

The crowning glory of this whole project – it was done in less than a month!

Interested to learn more? Write to info@harbingerknowledge.com.

Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum – Session #1: The Best and The Worst of Educational Outsourcing

As we had mentioned in our previous post, Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum, in its first edition, has taken up a topic that’s very relevant to all of us in the educational outsourcing business – What to do and what NOT to do in the educational outsourcing business.

And sharing with us decades of knowledge and experience on this subject is Kim Sullivan, Senior Editorial Director of Words and Numbers, Inc.

In a freewheeling chat with Kim, we learnt many interesting facts about educational outsourcing. She strongly emphasized the need for quality, transparency, trust, consistency, domain knowledge and creativity. Educational Outsourcing in not a factory business and should not be termed as a BPO [Business Process Outsourcing].

Given below is the link to the audio recording of the interview by Bijoy Banerjee, AVP – Business Development. We look forward to reading your comments on this post or you can also write to us at info@harbingerknowledge.com.

Session #1 | Aug 2012
Topic: The Best and The Worst of Educational Outsourcing
Expert: Kim Sullivan, Senior Editorial Director of Words and Numbers, Inc.
Podcast duration: 12.5 minutes

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum – A Series of Podcasts With Leading Industry Professionals

Harbinger is proud to announce the launch of Harbinger’s Thought Leadership Forum, an unique place where learning and industry experts come together to talk about thought leadership, trends, challenges and solutions in the learning outsourcing business.

This forum is meant for all of us in the learning business. You can access blogs, case studies, white papers and podcast of interviews with the learning experts. It’s going to be an exciting place for knowledge sharing and thought leadership in the learning domain. We welcome you to connect with this forum.

In its first edition, the forum has taken up a topic that’s very relevant to all of us in the educational outsourcing business – What to do and what NOT to do in the educational outsourcing business. And sharing with us decades of knowledge and experience on this subject is Kim Sullivan, Senior Editorial Director of Words and Numbers, Inc.

Watch out for this first podcast in the series starting next week where you can listen to Kim Sullivan sharing her experiences with Bijoy Banerjee, AVP, Business Development.

Harbinger at the Training 2012 Conference & Expo

– An account by Mona Sharma, DGM – Projects, and Exhibitor at the Conference

Date: February 13-15, 2012

Venue: Atlanta, GA, at the Georgia World Congress Center

Visitor’s Profile: Professional trainers, consultants, and academics, HRD professionals and senior executives, Instructional designers & other related professionals.

Exhibitor’s Profile: Business Development Services, Training and Talent Development Services, Authoring and Publishing Platforms, Custom Content and Communication Services, Learning and Performance Services, Digital Literacy and Desktop Productivity Assessment Services, Train the Trainer Workshop and Consulting Services, Distance Learning, Employee Selection & Orientation, Ethics, Leadership Training, Motivation, Presentation Skills, Problem Solving, Project Management, Team Building & Performance, Videoconferencing, Writing Skills, Translation services, Training Documents Development Services.

The training 2012 conference & expo was an event designed for learning, training and performance professionals. It was a midsized conference with approximately 700 – 800 attendees. There were around 65-70 vendors exhibiting in the expo hall, a varied mix of vendors, providing content development services, transcription and translation services, technology solutions, train the trainer services, corporate training and corporate entertainment services too! It was very encouraging to witness that people worldwide were taking learning and training so seriously.

With the assurance that we were at the right place at the right time, we got busy with setting up the booth, the fun and creative part of the exhibition booth preparations, where we presented our eLearning Products and Custom Content Development Services.

We exhibited Raptivity, our interactivity building tool which allows you to quickly and easily create elearning interactions such as games, simulations, brainteasers etc. and embed them directly into your online courses. There are around 170+ interaction templates to choose from to make your elearning courses interactive.

Along with our products, Harbinger also presented its Custom Content services offerings. Visitors showed keen interest in experiencing our expertise in content development using Flash, HTML5, Lectora, Articulate, ToolBook and our own tools Elicitus and Raptivity. All our learning solutions got an overwhelming response.

 

Edumercials: One of our unique offerings was development of ‘Edumercials’- short for Educational Commercials, which are 5-6 minute self playing animations that are either story or scenario-based and put across a concept in an interactive way. Edumercials can be used as standalone just-in-time learning pieces or they can also be integrated within elearning courses to make the courses more engaging. Quite a few visitors signed up for the raffle to win a 5-minute free edumercial.

Single Source Solution for Mobile Learning: Our mobile learning conversations led us to discussions about the platform independent ‘Single Source’ solutions being offered for mobiles and laptops. The iPad demos and especially the interactive e-Book, was well appreciated by everyone. Many were surprised to see Flash based animations, video and audio integrated in an eBook developed in HTML5.

Interactive ILT: Some visitors who engaged in virtual classrooms or face to face training were interested in our Instructor Led Training services where in we offered to instructionally and visually enhance their presentations and develop facilitator and student notes for them.

We had an exclusive range of elearning samples for both desktop/laptop and mobile tablets ranging from Product, Process, Soft skill and Leadership and Management training to K-12 training. All these samples were also made available on our showcase so that they could be viewed at leisure. (https://showcase.harbingerknowledge.com/ ; Username: training2012-visitor; Password: password1!)

Visits by the Industry Expert: Well known speakers and thought leaders from the industry visited our booth and were impressed with our instructional approach and the apt use of interactivity in our courses.

The expo ended after two full days of meeting new people, interesting conversations and demos and assurances of exploring a new relationship with Harbinger! Through Harbinger I have attended other International Conferences in North America and visited customer sites for project discussions, however this was the first time I experienced being a presenter in the conference booth.

I would say I experienced a very different Valentine Day’s eve by connecting with many new people and prospects! I look forward to meet with them again in the next upcoming conferences!! Till then bye and enjoy the new ways of Learning!!!