Discover E-Learning Treasure in Mashrur Nabi’s Pirate Tale

Written by Maria LeStage — Posted in Articulate Storyline, Customers, Guru Awards

Next up in our series on Articulate Storyline guru contest winners: the delightful runner-up course, “The Adventures of Captain Learnbeard: The SMS Treasure,” by Mashrur Nabi.


Mashrur’s decade of training experience really shows in his course. The Purdue University graduate, currently the manager of safety and quality training at Etihad Airways, UAE, flexed his technology and design prowess to skillfully transform a weighty regulatory topic into this playful, engaging piece. And he credits Articulate Storyline for whisking him from concept to course “faster than I could have achieved with any other tool.”

A Clever Construct

At first, Mashrur struggled with how to tie three disparate content areas—pillars of a safety management system (SMS), safety cultures, and reporting—into a single, cohesive course. Then he had an epiphany. “While I was reading a Japanese comic, the idea to design the course as a treasure hunt just popped into my head. I spent the next five hours sketching it out.” The result: a clever construct that takes advantage of Storyline’s triggers, variables, slide layers, and states features to deliver nonlinear content.

Cast as a pirate, you are the main character in Mashrur’s adventure. A Storyline text entry variable lets you personalize your pirate’s name to whatever you’d like—real or fantasy, we won’t judge. The story starts as you return from the high seas to find a kingdom besieged by a dragon. Compelled to save the kingdom, you must overcome the dragon and complete a quest for gems.

Each gem represents one of Mashrur’s three knowledge areas—and you’re free to hunt them in any order. A treasure map doubles as a content guide and progress meter, using triggers, states, and slide layers to dim gems once you’ve “found” them. “My favorite part of the course was the treasure map,” says Mashrur. “Rewarding learners with gems as they progress provides fun feedback that keeps them engaged.”

Mashrur gives each leg of the quest a unique look and feel, yet ties them all together with cohesive design. Mashrur says it was remarkably easy, thanks to Storyline’s story view feature, which lets you see all the slides in your course at once, grouped by scenes. “Story view provides an overview of each scene and slide, so it was super easy to grow the course structure organically. Once I designed the core structure, I just copied and pasted it into new scenes, and customized it with graphics and content. Story view significantly reduced development time and let me focus on small chunks, one at a time.”

Quest for Knowledge

Like all good quests, you must overcome challenges to find each gem. In this case, assessments of how well you apply your knowledge of SMS. Storyline variables track your progress. Do well and you’ll earn a gem. Fall short and you can review your results (conveniently color-coded with help from the states feature in Storyline). If an answer is green you got it right; red means you’re off base.

Rather than test how well you’ve memorized content, Mashrur designed his assessments to test how well you apply it, which is critical when working with a regulatory topic. During an assessment, you can review training notes built with triggers and slide layers to refresh your memory without penalty. And following a challenge, you can click to view a content summary, or download it as a PDF at the end of the course.

Mashrur did an excellent job of creating free-form assessments visually in sync with the rest of the course, so you feel immersed in the game. In one drag-and-drop, you drag a star to a constellation outline representing an answer choice. In another, you drag answers from one of four pillars to a pyramid set in the quest’s desert scene.

Software Simulation

If you’re not sure how to tackle the constellation- or desert-themed drag-and-drop challenges, no problem. In the challenge instructions, Mashrur included software simulations that show you exactly what to do. Producing rich simulations is no sweat, thanks to Storyline’s intuitive interface. “It’s designed for e-learning, and capable of action fine-tuning.” Mashrur predicts, “It’s a game-changer for the industry.”

Wit and Wisdom

We loved the playfulness Mashrur weaves into his course, conceptually with the quest framework, visually with the colorful cartoon imagery, and linguistically with the humorous copy and sound effects.

The visual elements are so clean, simple, and consistent, we were surprised to learn that Mashrur relied solely on stock images. He notes, “Luckily, I found related images with a similar design style. The cartoon look not only breaks free of the standard graphics common to e-learning, it creates a sense of story that keeps people engaged.” And with slide layers, it was easy for Mashrur to add many rich visuals. He explains, “Slide layers let you put elements on one slide rather than on multiple slides. It’s just so much simpler to manage.”

Mashrur also peppered quirky sound bites throughout the course to humor learners. “Storyline made it incredibly easy to add audio,” he says. “I just inserted audio, aligned it using the timeline, and done!” Paired with his humorous copy, we couldn’t help but laugh at our pirate’s trials and adventures. You’d be hard-pressed to learn about safety management systems in a more delightful way.

We applaud Mashrur for his inspired concept and skillful use of Storyline features to deliver critical business content in such an engaging, information-rich way. When asked what he liked most about using Storyline to build this course, Mashrur laughs. “Everything! I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about software.”

5 responses to “Discover E-Learning Treasure in Mashrur Nabi’s Pirate Tale”


Wonderful work. You made a potentially boring topic into a fun-adventure. I very much dug the mixed theme of pirate meets medieval king and the gem-rewarding characters.
I will say, and this may be just me, I found the sound effects a tad bit distracting especially cause they came across as choppy instead of a consistent soundtrack. I’d also caution the use of sound bytes that may have license/copyright issues (i.e Daffy Duck and Jerry Seinfeld).
Tom Kuhlman has stated, “Be intentional about what goes on the screen. Nothing’s there by accident.” I would take the same approach to the sounds. Though some sounds “fit” others seemed to miss the mark.
Overall, the flow and design is outstanding.

James Ignacio // Posted at 4:28 pm on July 30th, 2012


How you make winning layer appear after three answers have been selected?

I have managed to get everything else but am stuck on this last item.

Help would be appreciated.


Alphonso // Posted at 10:37 am on August 5th, 2012

Thanks for your feedback Jim. Was going to put in custom soundbites, and went with the selected soundbites because of the time constraint.

Alphonso, if you still need help get in touch with me through my website and I can help you out.

Mashrur // Posted at 4:25 am on September 16th, 2012

I love this Storyline. I’ve been trying to contact you about it, but your website doesn’t seem to be working. I’d love to talk to you about purchasing a license to use this format.

Paul Curry // Posted at 10:08 am on March 6th, 2014

Hi Paul,

Just saw the comment.

I changed my site, get in touch through

Let’s chat 🙂

Mashrur // Posted at 1:55 am on March 18th, 2014

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