My colleague, Lauren Wescott, recently highlighted one of our projects that focused on collecting learner responses in order to create a meaningful reflection activities in elearning. A typical way to collect a learner response is through a text entry variable which allows someone to type in their response to a prompt. This response can be saved and compared to another statement, or gathered to view at a later time. However, we recently created a way for learners to respond that did not involve text entry at all.
The Technical Challenge
It is often tempting to design a reflection activity in elearning where learners enter an answer to a prompt. But it is always worth asking whether learners will actually engage with these prompts. Savvy, experienced veterans of elearning modules (or those who are in a hurry and just want to get it over with) know that the way to get around such text entry fields is simply to pound on the keyboard for a few strokes and then hit the submit button, regardless of how nonsensical that answer might be.
From an instructional design standpoint, the question becomes how do we save the information and give the learner—or potentially a coach or mentor—an opportunity to take it more seriously and perhaps even act on it? While in the past we have created solutions where learners send themselves the reflections by email or print them, we decided this time not to allow users to enter any text at all. Instead, we wanted to display a guided list of terms and create a way for the learner to select terms from this list of 24 concepts in response to a prompt. Later, we wanted to recall the terms they selected onscreen in order to provide a reflection opportunity about what they selected after receiving additional information.
Reflection activities in Articulate Storyline
Creating a “select 5” option offered a new activity for the learner, along with a way to visualize the terms and their meaning differently before reflection on it later in the module. One challenge we discovered while developing this activity was that we learned that we’d have to set a variable for each of the 5 terms. Building the interaction to set these proved a bit more complicated than entering text to be saved and read later. Read on to view the approach for each.
Setting variables for our “pick 5” activity
Setting up 5 unique variables that will capture the words the learner selected was the first part of the set up on this slide. I also used a number variable in this interaction that counted up with each selection in order to trigger the submit button after 5 concepts were chosen.
In order to display the terms chosen, I created rectangles with 24 different states to register the 5 concepts the learner selected in this interaction. This step took a lot of initial work in set up, but the initial time and effort paid off as the rectangles could easily be copied over for an additional interaction.
For this interaction, the learner is able to visualize the components in layered “dimensions” and hover over each concept. When they came across a concept they wanted to select, they simply clicked the mouse (or tapped the screen).
Because this interaction is based on learner selection of an item, each potential selection had its own variable (identities 1- 24) with its own set of triggers to change the state of the rectangle to match it. In order to make sure the selections did not overlap in the rectangle, the number variable (counter) was used to trigger each rectangle.
The last step was to register these unique variables based on selecting the submit button. This involved setting a trigger for each identity variable based on the state of each rectangle. After each item was selected, a number was added to the counter variable. When the counter reached 5, the submit button was activated, and, when selected, set each of the 5 variables to the 5 components selected by the learner.
At a later point in this module, all of these variables were called back for a comparison. This allowed for a unique way for the learner to reflect on their responses in the module. Though the learner could have typed in concepts about themselves, this option provided a finite amount of choices that were able to be replicated for a compare and contrast reflection.
To view the experience, select here to check it out.