In a previous post on the Adobe Help Forums, I outlined a challenge that I was facing by trying to execute a branching menu interface which would allow a user to choose from 3 paths each containing a related question pool. In the spirit of “flexible learning” the general idea was that none of the paths were meant to be sequential, i.e. the learner was not expected to complete set 1 before attempting set 2 or set 3. What that meant though, was that a path should only be available to a learner if he had not already visited it and completed the related question set.
Using question slides, I also intended to provide unique feedback to the leaner based on his performance at the end of each path. Captivate, as I soon learnt, would by default, view my output as a single quiz with a single system generated results quiz slide at the end. I created customized “checkpoint” results slides at the end of each path so that the learner could have some feedback on his performance regardless of if all 3 groups had been completed.
Just when everything looked set: (i) my user variables were running accurately and generating the right calculations, (ii) states were changing as they ought to and (iii) all other cosmetic details, I noticed that the caption at the bottom of the question slide on the final set of questions -whichever set was the last to be completed – kept reading “Question 4 of 8” -when truly this could not be the case. This caused the final results slide to return null values as well since the real values from the second set were never being stored or recorded.
I immediately reached out to Lilybiri and Ron Ward and Allen Partridge – as I am teaching myself Captivate. I experimented with the quiz scope. I experimented with “branch aware” vs. not “branch aware” but alas, it didn’t quite fit what I thought my finished product should do. For example, I included the menu in the quiz scope since I had users jumping back and forth there (remember the 3 paths?) but instead, this increased the ‘perceived’ number of questions in the output: Question 4 of 16. Though it appeared as a grey, barely visible caption that no learner would probably take seriously, I was annoyed and took it seriously because it was “not what i wanted” In the interest of time, and at my wit’s end, I opted to give the learner a linear experience and finished 2016 feeling defeated.
The Study Tour Project
In early 2017, I developed a content planning template: Jeopardy for the creation of a game. I had briefly glimpsed the learning interaction available in the Captivate software and initially thought that it would suffice for what I wanted. However, from the point of view of an artist, the published interaction was not at all engaging. I would have to design my own thing. Unfortunately, the branching menu conundrum was on the return – perhaps in a less complex way but nevertheless it was re-surfacing and I hadn’t worked out a solution for it. This case study is about how I did just that. I would like to share my process with other newcomers like myself.
The Jeopardy Project
Project details: Length 41.5 secs (1245 frames) ; Resolution 1024 x 627; Slides = 13; Responsive project; Size: 4.3mb
I will describe the lessons learned based on individual slide designs and the reasoning behind each in the Jeopardy Game project. The slide categories in this case study are: (i) Title Slide, (ii) Instructions Slide, (iii) Menu Slide, (iv) Question Slide and (v) Results Slide.
Personal Planning Tips:
Tip #1. I usually refer to the eLearning Brothers website by default. One of the bonuses of working in Captivate is that you are automatically linked to their much coveted assets library. The cut-outs are hands-down every elearning designer’s joy. Unfortunately, the game templates aren’t quite as attractive at least to me. I didn’t like any ready-made option that I saw, and the Game Show Quiz Challenge wasn’t even working as it should. This proved useful in showing me what NOT to do for my particular needs.
Tip #2. I put aside the artist in me – at least at the very start – and became an amateur logician. It is always more important to know that it will work right, i.e. the logical flow, definition of user variables, selection of system variables and the writing of execution of advanced actions: shared, single or conditional. There was no need to build out the entire thing as some creative masterpiece, I focused only on the baseline structure. What were the critical/parent actions? I began with those. Which of these have children or will be duplicated/repeated? How often? I used some basic shapes and buttons and ensured that everything was operating as they should. The idea is to embellish with transitions, animation, sounds, etc. after.
Tip #3. I have a habit of designing my graphics (as detailed as possible) in an external programme and simply importing them as static background graphics into Captivate. I have found that this reduces the number of objects that only add cosmetic value on my stage and nothing else. The was the approach used for the look and feel of the jeopardy game.
As a launch slide, its purpose is to gain attention (Gagne, 1965). This can be achieved by adding music, transitions, animations etc. I included an exit button as an option to the learner. Adding audio to the timeline tends to extend the length of the frame count. In the past, I have been advised by Lilybiri to keep this to a minimum, so instead I used the On Enter option in the Slide Properties to “Play Audio” with the continue movie at the end of audio option selected. When it was not selected, the published project appeared white and nothing was happening. Additionally, it was discovered that for most, if not all, of my buttons I would only allow users, a single attempt. What that meant however, is that if an advanced action was linked to a single attempt button, I would have to again specify the same advanced action script for the “on last attempt” dialogue.
Conveying expectations to learners/users good is proper instructional design practice. Even if users glance over instructions, they should be there as a precaution. While I’m sure everyone gets the idea of Jeopardy, I wanted to briefly indicate how performance would be assessed.
I have also used the instructions slide to achieve something that I never did before in my previous projects. I executed an advanced action on entering that has absolutely nothing to do with the current slide! The advanced action Start_Game sets up the next slide rather, by resetting any and all variables or changed states to their default or normal value. By handling the reset one slide ahead, I was free to write another advanced action, and perhaps a more pertinent one, for the coming slide. This, was a breakthrough for me as in the past, I often tried to do too much on a single slide and an advanced action at run-time.
There are a couple of design tricks here. I used shapes which I turned into buttons and positioned them against the background graphic. Because my graphic had used different coloured crowns as visual cues for the 3 levels/categories of questions, I would have to reduce the opacity of the shape to 0%. At first when I did this, the four customized states that I had assigned to each button also automatically changed to 0% – causing my heart to sink. However, I later realized that I could customize the states individually and leave the normal state at 0%. This was neat – and is a lot like the “hidden” option in Articulate Storyline.
There are 9 hidden user variables on the menu slide. These count or check if a learner/user/player has previously accessed one of the questions from the menu. These variables are important because this is a branching menu where the learner is free to choose which jeopardy question he wants to attempt. I don’t want him repeating any questions. I don’t just want them disabled, I want to give him an indication that he has already tried, and whether it was right or wrong, that question is now no longer available to him. Isn’t that how jeopardy works?
Using those variables helped to set up a conditional action called “Menu_Checks” which I executed on Enter. What it does is loop through Q1 to Q9 by determining if “Any of the conditions true” such as [Q1 is equal to 1] etc. Change the state of Question1_Button to Attempted and Disable Question1_Button etc. As a non-programmer, I don’t profess to know anything much about variables except what I have gleaned from Lilybiri’s Tutorials on Adobe – I am sure there are other ways to do this more efficiently.
I used the system variable cpQuizInfoPointsScored to display the Game Participant’s earnings at the start and during the game.
As you may guess, for the branching menu to work accurately I had to ensure that the Q1 through Q9 variables were assigned the value of 1 ON ENTER – for each respective question slide. This is perhaps the subtle difference between this Jeopardy project and the Study Tour project since here a single slide was assigned to a single variable, once it was counted, it triggered the right change.
Questions slides, in addition to having slide properties where advanced actions can be executed, also have quiz properties where more advanced actions can be added. Each question in the Jeopardy Game has a conditional action for its specific question. The conditional action that I have used takes advantage of the system variable cpQuizInfoAnswerChoice. I disabled shuffling of questions for this to work appropriately. Basically the command checks that the right answer (designated by the literal A/B/C/D that I indicated), plays a success or failure audio clip and jumps back to the menu. It was the first time my if/else conditional action worked! I was only too pleased to duplicate it for the nine questions. I am a bit curious though, if I did want to enable shuffling of answers, would I have had to specify the correct phrase (full sentence related to the right A/B/C/D) as the literal value instead?
This slide, though system generated, has some changes. My objective for this one was to personalize the quiz results using an avatar. To achieve this effect I used the technique described earlier by the opacity at 0% trick for normal inbuilt states. Under project info in the Pass Fail option, I added the “Change State” of avatar to “Happy” / “Disappointed” and adjusted the default pass and failure messages.
Thinking it through – My Storyboards
Building the Jeopardy Game was a giant leap in my self-directed learning with Captivate because I was able to move faster and apply lessons from previous projects to make it come together. Adobe Captivate for Beginners who may be overly zealous and ambitious in their creations like me – is a worthwhile challenge if you’re up for the task.