This is kind of a bittersweet post. Originally, I was going to write about using Google Lively’s virtual world to build scenes and characters for your elearning courses. The application was free and had some potential as a learning tool. Apparently, I was the only one who was using it, so Google decided to pull the plug. Oh well. If it’ll help the stock price, I’m all for it. The 8 shares I own aren’t doing too well right now.
Even with the demise of Lively, the essence of the post still stands. So I’m moving forward with it. You’ll just need to find a different virtual world tool. Any of them should work. Make sure to read the terms of agreement. If you’re not quite sure where to start, there’s always Second Life. TechCrunch recently did a blog post that mentions a few of them for even more choices.
What makes this approach so compelling for rapid elearning is the cost, ease of use, and ability to create virtually any type of scenario for your courses. Here’s a quick scenario that I built. Check it out. Then I’ll explain how I pulled it all together.
NOTE: I built the scenario in Quizmaker ’09. For those who want to see how I built the quiz, here’s a link to download the quiz file (24 MB).*
Almost all of the virtual world applications let you build your own avatars. You typically get a broad range of choices. In the demo above, I created a couple of characters and then made them look like normal people. I wanted something that looked more like the real world for my scenes.
Unless you’re doing training for groundhogs in Wyoming then the avatar above probably isn’t the best choice. However, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use a creature like that as a guide or character in your scenes. It could lighten up the tone or add a little humor.
Set Your Scene
Most virtual worlds come with all sorts of rooms and settings. I created the images above in just a few minutes. I didn’t have to build anything. I just entered the room and made the image.
As you can see, there are many options. The character can go from discussing the movie My Cousin Vinny to being a discriminating blog reader. You get a ton of freedom and creativity in where your characters can interact.
Build Your Scenario
Virtual worlds give you an assortment of characters and settings. But the real power comes from the camera movement and views. Because you’re in a 3D environment, you can move the camera around to quickly change the look and feel of your scenario.
Here are a few images. The characters are in the same location. I changed the camera angle and then added an action to add a little drama. The advantage to this approach is that the custom camera angles lets you set your scenario from multiple perspectives. This is really helpful when you have dialogue between two people. I think you’d agree that it seems more engaging.
So, how did I do it?
It really is pretty easy. We’ll assume that you already have a script and know what types of images you want.
- Log into the virtual world of your choice.
- Add you characters.
- Choose your setting.
- Move your camera (view) into position.
- Do a screen capture. Depending on what you can do in the virtual world, you might even be able to make quick videos and add your own audio, like I did in the demo.
That’s it. Pretty simple and a great way to get the types of images you want. Of course, this approach doesn’t work for everybody and every organization. However, it is a very easy and inexpensive way to make your elearning scenarios look a bit more engaging.
I’d love to hear what you think. Or if you’ve done something similar, feel free to share examples or give us some tips. Just add them to the comments section.
*If you don’t have Quizmaker, you can always download the trial copy to play around with the quiz demo.
Upcoming E-Learning Events
- We'll be adding events for 2017 soon. If you'd like to see one of our workshops in your area just let me know.
- Mar 20 (Orlando). Want to learn to build courses with the right look & feel? Join David Anderson at his all day workshop on Graphic Design Essentials for Non-Graphic eLearning Designers.
- Mar 22-23 (Orlando). Come by the booth at Learning Solutions and say hello.
- April 13 (Minneapolis). Variables Made Easy with Articulate Storyline. Limited seats, so sign up now.
- April 13 (Minneapolis). Articulate User Meet Up. Details coming soon.
- April 14 (Minneapolis). PACT Meeting: Facing Today's Instructional Design Challenges.
Free E-Learning Resources
Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.
Here’s a great job board for elearning, instructional design, and training jobs
Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills
Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.