Choose Your Own Adventure: 3 days with Articulate Storyline

Remember the children’s book series Choose Your Own Adventure? The child reader is the protagonist making choices to determine the story’s plot. I used to love reading those books because I was involved in the action and I had to think and make decisions about a variety of scenarios that had consequences.

In the same way that Choose Your Own Adventure brings the reader into the action, some of the best eLearning out there at the moment brings learners into the action by giving them scenarios and choices. Many eLearning designers are currently looking at ways to create courses that are non-linear and customised towards the needs of the individual. We are recognising the value of scenario-based learning that draws the learner into the action and requires them to make decisions that have consequences. At the same time, many of us are working within time constraints and are reluctant to spend time on complex programming or Flash development.

Enter the amazing new software from Articulate called Storyline. It is a simple, flexible, powerful and engaging authoring tool.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the three-day Articulate Storyline workshop in Sydney, organised by B Online Learning, Australia’s only certified Articulate training providers. Our trainer was Ron Price, Senior Vice President of Yukon Learning, our training partners in the USA. Ron and the Yukon Learning team worked side by side with the Articulate team including Tom Kuhlmann to build this training. Ron’s knowledge and skills, combined with his sense of humour and approachability made it a fantastic three days of learning. It was also a great opportunity to network with other eLearning professionals.

In this post, I’d like to write about my experience of the 3-day Articulate Storyline training and a few standout points about the new software.

Day One

First of all, I have been using Articulate Studio for a few years and so it was pleasing to see that Storyline has a similar user interface. If you have used PowerPoint or Articulate Studio, you will be very comfortable with the Storyline interface. The Ribbon and the tabs feature all the elements you need to create richly interactive courses. Ron introduced us to the ‘Building Blocks’ of Storyline: States, Layers and Triggers. In simple terms these three functions allow eLearning designers to create an awesome range of screens and interactions. On our first slide we inserted one of Storylines’ in-built characters and then changed her state (e.g. facial expression) in a new layer. It is incredibly easy to do and the effect is marvellous. We looked at the Story View in Storyline (like an aerial shot of your course)—it is a great way to see the entire structure of your course, especially if you are adopting a non-linear approach. We also learnt how to insert a wide range of media and how to create custom interactions such as Drag and Drop. We finished the day looking at Storyline’s publishing options which include publishing for HTML5 and mobile devices.

Standout from Day 1: With states, layers and triggers, I can build almost anything into my eLearning courses.

Day Two

Ron began Day Two by asking us for our impressions of Storyline so far. People talked about their favourite features such as the built-in character images and the ‘Zoom Region’ feature. It was great to hear other people’s perspectives and share our enthusiasm for Storyline. The first half of Day Two covered how to create assessments in Storyline. I like the wide range of assessment options in Storyline—Graded Questions, Survey Questions, Freeform Questions, Draw from Bank Questions, and Result Slides. It is easy to build questions and to customise assessments according to your needs. After lunch we looked at how to build a simulation in Storyline. According to our Training Resource Guide, “A simulation is a series of learning scenarios that are tied together by a set of common learning objectives for that learning event.” Ron led us step-by-step through building a customer service simulation in Storyline. All the graphics and text were provided—we just used the resources to create the simulation. We just had to think through the logical branching process and design accordingly. I found the process was easier than I expected and I really like the way it gives learners a challenge, choices and then consequences. This is truly engaging eLearning. Later in the afternoon everyone recorded their own screencast, and then Ron showed us how Storyline can automatically segment the recording into multiple step-by-step tutorials. This is an amazing feature and a fantastic time-saver for eLearning designers.

Standout from Day 2: Scenario-based learning is easy in Storyline and the branching possibilities are endless.

Day Three

On the Advanced Storyline Training Day we looked at how to use variables to customise eLearning courses even further. We also had the opportunity to consolidate much of what we had learnt on the first two days. According to our Training Resource Guide “Variables allow you to conditionally perform actions in your course, based on variable values. With variables, you can capture what a user has done and act on that at a later time.” This opens up a wide range of possibilities for the eLearning designer including the ability to display customised information (e.g. the learner’s name), perform calculations, track progress and create custom learning paths. Although I found variables a bit challenging, I know that with further practice I will be able to use variables to create a more sophisticated learning experience.

Standout from Day 3: A significant part of Storyline’s power comes from variables.

The sky is the limit for the eLearning designer. Finally I would like to say a huge THANKS to Ron Price for coming to Sydney to train us in Articulate Storyline. The feedback from everyone on the course has been fantastic. We are looking forward to building adventures with Articulate Storyline and delivering the Certified Articulate Storyline training program in Australia.

  • michelle says:

    thanks for this article. As i have just been on a webinar which talked about the “choose your own adventure” storybuilding, it’s good to hear that the tool could be easy for those of use that currently use powerpoint to builb f2f, but are now building for the on-line world

    • Mark Tanti says:

      Hi there. I really enjoyed reading your reflections about training you participated in (Articulate). I have just started the Master eLearning course and have never used Articulate. My employer purchased Adobe Captivate 6 and I am just getting used to that. I was please to know that the interface on the computer was easy to use. Cheers now.

  • Matt Talbot says:

    This brings back memories of being thrown in at the deep end. I had to elarn enough of Storyline’s core features, via the online tutorials, to enable me to build a quick and engaging introduction to the energy industry.

    Storyline is just a great way to build interactive courses.

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