Monday, 31 October 2011

Instructional design, e-Learning and games in Adobe Captivate

A lot of the e-Learning and games I have designed have been developed in Adobe Flash. But,  it is worth noting that authoring tools such as Adobe Captivate can offer rapid development opportunities. And with a little bit of scripting sat under the bonnet, the results can be impressive and not simply PowerPoint with questions.

The following examples were generated by myself. They were designed and coded over the course of 8 days and were an exercise in self-training in Captivate and a vehicle to test the limitations of the authoring tool.

Systems Training
System training is Captivate’s stock in trade and it comes as no surprise that developing systems training is an efficient process in Captivate. The example presented here simulates modifying a widget in a browser. The Show e-Learning Topic shows the trainee what they need to do and Test Topic is an interactive step through.

Systems training has obvious applications in adult training, but can also be used in ICT classes in schools.

Photo Stories
This photo story shows how good instructional design can even elevate a simple multiple choice question. Based on three panel photo strips, the design and development makes use of Captivate's scripting and timeline functionality to display appropriate feedback and modify the next part of the story.

Photo stories are narrative based learning and are an excellent way to present dilemmas. In adult training, they can be used to train procedures and in education they provide a powerful way to teach subjects like PHSE.

SITUATED-training (Game)
This example is an attempt to push Captivate to its limits. The SITUATED-training course puts the trainee in a virtual setting where they need to visit various locations, talk to characters and interact with objects. The instructional design embeds a system simulation inside a dynamic story line. At the end of the training, the trainee is presented with a dynamic end report that shows what they did and didn’t do.

SITUATED-training is built around a cause and effect engine and provides a vehicle to deliver problem solving training. The approach is useful to train skills such as project management and auditing. In education, think history, geography and science.

If you want to know more or want help with instructional design and / or development of e-Learning / games in Flash or Captivate then contact me on my (Paul Ladley) Linked-in profile.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Proof of the Pudding 3 (learning simulations vs. games based learning)

Building on two past posts (Proof of the Pudding and Proof of the Pudding Part 2) I thought I would blog about pixelfountain.

pixelfountain is the company I set up in 1995 and have been working for ever since. The company owns the brand games-ED, which has been the main focus of my blogging activities. But, I thought for a change I would inform my readers about the learning simulation activities of pixelfountain.

I have designed over a dozen learning simulations for pixelfountain. The learning simulations blend the best of traditional and interactive learning. They have been used in over 450 workshops  to successfully train more than 6,500 individuals. We have delivered learning programmes in local councils, public sector, housing associations, community & voluntary sector and the private sector. Long–term evaluation of our learning simulation approach has shown that the immediate benefits translate into changed behaviour, better decision making and improved skills, which ultimately are incorporated into organisational improvements.

Evaluation of our programmes highlight improvements in 3 areas, which translate into improved decisions and allow change to occur at an organisational and partnership level:

  • Strategic Thinking – Understanding the key driver and needs. Does a particular decision help us get closer to our goal?  Learning simulations enable delegates to test strategies in a virtual community without the danger of making mistakes. They can then reflect on how their new understanding can be applied in the real world.
  • Joined-up Thinking – Understanding cause and effect provides perspective, reduces the chance of perverse outcomes / duplication, and increases the likelihood of win-wins. 
  • Collaborative Working – Working with stakeholder groups and partners improves decision-making by allowing organisations to benefit from the ‘wisdom of the crowd’. pixelfountain learning simulations are centred on the people. They consider how people learn, how they collaborate and how they apply new knowledge.

And, here is the interesting the thing, the learning simulations that I have designed, developed and delivered for pixelfountain are pretty much the same products as the games based learning products that we use with games-ED. If you don't believe me have a look at the games-ED Sustainaville demo and compare it to the pixelfountain product Planit-Sustainability. Okay they are not entirely identical as Sustainaville was slimmed down for the education market - not because it was deemed too hard, but because it needed to fit into educational time frames.

Actually, over the last decade we have been invited on special days to use pixelfountain learning simulations in schools, colleges and universities. They worked in education as well as with adult audiences, so we knew we weren't taking a huge risk with branding them as games-ED for the education market. In conclusion: 450 successful learning simulation workshops - that is proof of the pudding for learning simulation and our games based learning approach as well.

Finally, if they are the same product, why use to different terms: learning simulations and games based learning? Well, when we started delivering learning simulations 10 years ago, we didn't think people would turn up if we mentioned the "G" word.