How do you put beta software through its paces in a production environment? Run a guru contest, of course! As part of the final phase of the Storyline beta, we invited our team of beta testers to show off their most dazzling Storyline courses. We received more than 80 fantastic entries and we can’t wait to share all the winning courses with you. Over the next few months, we’re profiling winning entries that we hope will inspire and challenge the next wave of gurus. Here’s the first article on our contest winner, Sales Orientation, by Tim Buteyn and his team at ThinkingKap Learning Solutions.
Before he founded ThinkingKap Learning, Tim Buteyn ran the training department for a large software company—so he knows just how hard it really is to create engaging software training. When we announced the Storyline guru contest, Tim jumped at the chance to design a course around Storyline’s software simulation capabilities. “Most software training will put you to sleep,” says Tim. “With Storyline, we finally had a tool that let us draw outside the lines to create something fun.”
Tim’s team did a terrific job doing just that. We loved the Sales Orientation course in no small part because it’s so engaging. There’s simply no way to view content passively—and you don’t want to. Immediately you’re dropped into a real-world scenario—applying for a job—an immersive experience that demands your involvement and interest. Cementing your personal connection, you get to choose one of two avatars, both illustrated Storyline characters whose expressions and poses change in response to the learner’s actions throughout the course—a powerful way to give natural, realistic feedback.
Next up, you decide whether to apply for the outside sales rep or sales admin position by dragging paper from the job listing to your avatar’s hand. This interaction demonstrates one of Tim’s talents: using Storyline’s powerful features to mimic realistic activities. First, he constructed a visually interesting slide, and then he used the drag-and-drop quizzing feature in Storyline to assign drag items (the slips of paper) and the drop target (the avatar’s hand). Once he inserted his graphics and designed the look of the slide, building the actual interaction took only a few seconds.
The realism not only hooks learners, it improves their ability to master content. Tim explains: “Wrapping training in real-world scenarios lets you explore on your own and possibly fail. We wanted to force learners to make actual cognitive connections instead of simply following the leader. This challenge gives you an opportunity to make a real connection to the material.”
Before long, you’ll notice how Tim deftly uses the variables in Storyline to bolster the course’s realistic feel. Variables keep track of all you do, and determine how you navigate through the content. View the course multiple times and you’ll experience something new each time you make a different choice. Wiseacres beware: you can even get kicked out if you don’t take the course seriously!
“With the variables in Storyline, you can easily create interactions that remember what users select,” says Tim. “This opens the door to interactions as simple or complex as you can imagine. For instance, we built nine different outcomes for the outside sales rep position.”
In the sales rep scenario, Mike Peterson, the testy chief buyer for Tundra Department stores, gets happier or grumpier depending on your sales skills. “Variables make it easy to present contextual responses,” explains Tim. “And like real scenarios, the feedback is the reaction of the other character in the scenario. It’s then up to the learner to interpret that reaction and select the appropriate response. You simply can’t replicate this approach with a multiple-choice assessment or linear presentation.”
Engaging Software Simulaton
If you apply for the sales admin job, you’ll experience what we loved most in Tim’s course: the software simulation. “Before Storyline, the tools available for creating software training have been so clunky, they’ve provided a convenient excuse for why training remained so poor,” says Tim. “But Storyline removes those barriers. You can easily capture screens and create interactive simulations and then integrate them with other elements to create truly engaging software training.”
The software simulation starts with a compelling intro screen (see above) and an explanation of your objectives: entering a contact, event, and opportunities into Salesforce. It’s a realistic experience that accurately assesses your understanding of Salesforce. If you get stuck, you can ask for a hint. If you’re totally at a loss, you can click “Just show me this step and let’s move on.” Extra help comes at a cost, though. The more help you need, the lower your overall score.
“Using Storyline variables, we created a robust scoring system that not only tracks how many steps you get right or wrong, but also gives a small penalty when you ask for a hint,” says Tim. “After you finish, you can see which steps you got correct, which were incorrect, and which prompted you to use hints. You’ll also hear one of four different audio clips with customized feedback.”
The best part: Tim only had to record his screen once to capture each objective for the simulation. He inserted the screen recordings as “try slides” and then customized them using Storyline’s slide layers and triggers features. For example, the “help” layer lets the learner reveal a hint and the “show me” layer includes an MP4 of the step being executed correctly.
For the first time in his career, Tim says he was able to design a simulation based on his imagination, rather than on his software’s capabilities. “It’s hard enough to come up with engaging content, much less finding creative ways to implement it around the limitations of available authoring tools,” Tim explains. “With Storyline, this barrier is finally gone.”
While the software simulation tipped the scales in favor of this course, we also loved that Tim and his team showcased so many of Storyline’s other key features. They relied on slide layers, triggers, and states to develop personalized feedback and compelling interactivity, even within the software simulation. They used form-based and free-form quizzing to assess learners and, in one case, branch learners between jobs. They powered nuanced scoring and realistic course branching with variables. And they tapped Storyline’s characters to connect learners with the material.
He adds, “We thoroughly enjoyed building this course in Storyline. It no longer takes teams of people with extensive programming skills to achieve this type of interactivity. Storyline brings this power to the masses. If you can think it up, you can probably develop it yourself in Storyline.”