Taken from the Rapid Elearning blog http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/engage-your-learners-by-mimicking-the-real-world/
The idea is to use real ways that people typically interact with a computer and build the course around it…like digging through and email box. I like this one because it also plays to people’s nosy side.
Mimic an Instant Message Experience
A lot of people use some sort of instant messaging application like Skype, AIM, or Messenger. Use an instant chat screen to make it look like two or more people are chatting.
To do this you need to create two or more people who will chat. They represent different parts of the information. You also need to create a reason for their conversation. And then make the information that you share conversational. You can have them click the forward button to advance or add a hyperlink on the actual chat interface.
I did a quick version of this on the blog post about building elearning courses in PowerPoint. The chat section is only a few slides. Click the play button to advance.
Click on this link to go right to the Skype slides.
Dig Through Someone’s Email Inbox
I read an article a couple of years ago about the Internet and new technologies. They interviewed some college students and one of them said that “email is what you did with old people.” So let’s say you have to train some of those old people. Why not create a screen that mimics an Outlook inbox?
Then have the learners click through email messages to collect information. The message titles could match what would have been the slide titles. And in the body of the email you’d present the information. If you really wanted to make it engaging wrap the emails into some sort of interesting story where each one builds off of the other.
I took that old soap story from the Internet and built a quick prototype to show how something like that could work. I just added all of the emails to the inbox for you to click through. In a real course, some would be in the sent box or other folders. Then I’d create a case study that required the learner to collect information through the emails. You could even bury links in the body of the emails to provide additional resources and information.
An Outlook type interface makes progressive storytelling a good approach. Think of it like a virtual scavenger hunt. Let the learner dig through someone else’s emails. You could even add distracters or funny emails to make it a little more interesting. Of course, if you’re training financial analysts then you’re kind of out of luck because it’s hard to make what they do exciting.
Create a Facebook Scavenger Hunt
A Facebook screen is kind of cool because of the types of information you find on a Facebook page. There’s the information wall, an inbox, pictures, and a host of files and applications. It’s a great way to integrate all sorts of media and information in your courses.
What I’d do is create some sort of reason the learner needs to click around the screen to collect information. Then assess them based on the information they should have collected. For example, say I was doing a course on workplace violence. By using a Facebook page I could add more interest than a series of bullet point slides.
I’d start with a story about Kelly Christopher, a disgruntled financial analyst, who attacks a well known blogger that happens to be visiting the analyst’s work location. Everyone is in shock and not sure how such a thing could happen, especially to such a nice blogger.
At this point, you invite the learners to visit Kelly’s Facebook page. As they click through it, they can read about him and get clues as to what triggered his outburst. Then build the assessment or case study around the clues they collected.
So there you have it, three ideas on how you can mimic everyday uses of the computer for your course design. Essentially you’re creating pages of information and just changing the way the learner navigates it. So even if you have a standard click and read course, you can still make it a bit more engaging this way. The novelty itself is more interesting.
If you want to make it more engaging and interactive, create a case study or scavenger hunt type activity where the learner collects information and then has to use that to solve a problem. This could work in corporate or academic settings. What would the CEO’s Facebook page look like? Or, what could a high school student glean from Einstein’s Outlook inbox?
I think you’d agree that this approach is more engaging than just a series of click and read slides. The personal connection and the ability to build a story around your content will help make the information more relevant and probably more interesting.