Behind the Scenes: The E-learning Character Challenge

About the Challenge

Challenge number 247 focused on increasing the engagement factor of a course by using characters.


My Entry

The Thinking
When do we get engaged with something? If we are a part of something, if someone seeks our opinion, if our sentences draw a response, that is when we get engaged. Am I right? From an instructional design point of view, engagement also occurs when participants have a sense of autonomy over the choices they make.  I decided to weave the above-mentioned points in my entry for this challenge.
The Idea
For this particular challenge, I decided to use characters on two levels.
The first level utilized Articulate Storyline’s inbuilt characters as ‘avatars’. These avatars were to act as a bridge between the participants and the second level characters.
The second level characters were from one of the works of Jane Austen. The ideas was to have the avatars (and thereby the participants) and the characters converse with each other. This conversation was to act as a window that offered a glimpse of a world Austen christened as ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
The Mechanics
In this demo, I incorporated the strategy of a branching scenario.  This branching was achieved by making use of Articulate Storyline’s buttons and variables. I kept the navigation open-ended, thereby giving participants the freedom to move through the course as per their liking. The open-ended navigation also suited this course as I had used the idea of a ‘tour’ to structure the course.
The Execution
The characters that Jane Austen created always had a ‘trait’. When I drafted the ‘conversations’ for this course, I tried to capture these traits. Likewise, I tried to capture the ethos depicted in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Whether or not I was successful is something that only you can tell.
After writing the ‘conversations’, I began working on the course structure. Since I was pre-decided on using a ‘tour’ as a structure, I began working on the components of this structure such as the splash screen, the menu page and the tour form. The splash screen, designed as a brochure-cum-store front, was created in Adobe Illustrator and PowerPoint. 
The tour form captured data about the participants by way of checkboxes and text fields present in Articulate Storyline. I then wove this data in the conversation by using Articulate Storyline’s variables.
For the menu page, I used images of English mansions, a carriage and a countryside background. Now, all the participant had to do was drag the carriage and place it over a mansion. The participant then could converse with the inhabitants of the mansion.  Moreover, depending on the character and the choice that the participant makes, the participant could earn either censure or praise, or even invite another question.


The Final Take

I loved creating entry for this particular challenge as it allowed me to create a milieu inhabited by the characters of a classic novel.

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