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Fun with Elearning Design: Hiding Easter Eggs

Planting an Easter Egg (or a dozen Easter Eggs) in your elearning project is next level engagement. Today’s blog post offers a variety of ways you can drop an unexpected, surprise element into your next project.

With Easter right around the corner, I thought it could be fun to do a blog post about Easter Eggs. A while back I had a conversation about so-called Easter Eggs with gamification expert Karl Kapp, who described them as “a hidden video game feature or a surprise, they’re often unlocked or found with certain key combinations or going to a certain room, picking something up… the secret is they’re not really central to the gameplay. It’s kind of like a hidden treasure, a gift from the game designer to you as the player for putting in hours of work, or for figuring out a clever combination.”

I’ve always been fascinated and entertained by the idea of Easter Eggs in a learning context because, well, I just think they’re fun. I started doing a little research to see what kinds of Easter Eggs others have embedded into learning experiences, and the results didn’t disappoint. Perhaps you’ll find some transferable ideas for your next elearning project, or perhaps you’ll simply be entertained by hearing about what some other folks have been doing.

Put Together A Hidden Sentence

In a post on Articulate’s E-Learning Heroes discussion board, Julie Abbott shared the way her team decided to embed a series of Easter Eggs into a series of elearning courses. Her team gave one line of poetry in each course, and seemingly random letters in the line of poetry were in red font. In each module, they also placed hidden Easter Eggs around the course, embedded in things like graphics (and gave the learners hints on where to click by making the eggs glow). When the learner clicked on these hidden eggs, they’d receive a clue. In the final elearning module of the series, learners needed to use the clues they found hidden in images to re-arrange all of the letters they found in red font to unveil an actual sentence.

Use the Background for More Information

The Gaming in Training blog offers several ideas for Easter Eggs, but the one I was most drawn to is the way that we can use the background of a scene in an elearning module to insert additional information. As an example, one screen of your course may show an interaction between two characters in an office. Perhaps you can insert a poster on the wall behind the characters that outlines the organization’s mission (and if learners click on it, they can learn more about the organization’s vision and values as well).

Timely Use of the Rick Roll

In another blog post that I came across (and I’m so sorry, I closed out of the tab before I could give the writer credit here, and I couldn’t find it again), the author said that she would tempt her learners during an assessment by offering them a one-time use “easy button” to find an answer to a question. Unfortunately for the learners, when they clicked on the button, they’d merely find a video of Rick Astley singing his chart-topping smash from 1988, Never Gonna Give You Up. The message for her learners: there is no easy button for her course.

One note of caution if you plan to use the Rick Roll: not everyone is going to understand the joke. I’ve used it on my blog before and some people reach out to me to tell me it’s funny. Others (including my dear mother, who is also my biggest fan, reading every one of my blog posts! Hi mom!) reached out to me to let me know that they think I have a broken link – when they clicked on it, it just took them to some music video instead of whatever too-good-to-be-true content I had promised.

Bonus Easter Egg (Webinar Edition): “Hide” Something Behind You

Stephen H. Beard offers several examples of what he’s done in his courses on his blog, but the one I’m highlighting here is super simple. He teaches about insects and prior to each of his web-based sessions, he’ll change the artwork in his office, which can be seen over his right shoulder. Each insect gets its own piece of art. I like this idea because it’s so simple. You can change the artwork behind you, you can place a book behind you that learners may want to pick up for more information about your topic, a stuffed animal or piece of pop culture memorabilia that has something to do with your topic. You can even generate a background for yourself and insert an image of something to reward your learners who have an eye keen enough to find it.

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