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One of my favorite features in Storyline is freeform questions. I love that you can take a static slide and turn it into a fun and engaging interaction in just a few minutes. And it never gets old because each question is completely unique!

But my favorite freeform interaction of all is, without a doubt, the drag-and-drop, because of its versatility. Some people think drag-and-drops are only good for one thing: matching questions. But that’s only the beginning! With a little imagination, you can make meaningful and engaging interactions that simulate things your learners need to do in real life. Here are some great examples of creative uses for drag-and-drops:

As you can see, there are so many possibilities! If you’re a Storyline user, you’ve probably made a drag-and-drop interaction or two. But there’s one drag-and-drop feature that you may not know about: Drag-and-Drop States. Let’s take a closer look at what they are and why you should start using them.

What Are Drag-and-Drop States?

Drag-and-drop states are prebuilt object states that are specifically made for drag-and-drop interactions. They allow you to change the appearance of an object when it’s dragged over or dropped on a drop target. There are three default drag-and-drop states.

  • Drag Over: Changes the appearance of an object when you drag it over the drop target, even if you haven’t released the object yet.
  • Drop Correct: Changes the appearance of an object when it’s dropped on the correct drop target.
  • Drop Incorrect: Changes the appearance of an object when it’s dropped on an incorrect drop target.

Why You Should Use Drag-and-Drop States

Drag-and-drop states allow you to give visual feedback to your learners based on their actions. If you’re creating an ungraded learning activity, you can make the states appear immediately so learners can try again if they get it wrong the first time. And if you’re building a graded assessment, you can make the states appear after the learner submits their answers.

To adjust the timing of Drop Correct and Drop Incorrect states, simply uncheck the last box in the drag-and-drop options window:

Adjust Drag & Drop Options

In addition to giving learners a visual cue that their answer is correct or incorrect, drag-and-drop states can make the interaction seem more realistic by mimicking the real-life consequences of their action. In real life, if you’re building an engine and you don’t put one of the screws in the right spot, the result could be an oil leak. In a drag-and-drop interaction on building an engine, you could add an illustration of an oil puddle to the Drop Incorrect state of that screw to show learners they’ve made a mistake.

Another benefit of using drag-and-drop states is that they can add an element of surprise that catches your learners’ attention, making them more engaged in your course. They can also make the visual design of your course more appealing and professional-looking.

Still not getting what all the fuss is about? Let’s take a look at an example before and after I added drag-and-drop states.


Example Without Drag-and-Drop States

In this example I don’t have any drag-and-drop states. The learner can still infer that their answer is incorrect because the Post-it goes back to its original position, but when it’s correctly placed they don’t have any confirmation that their answer is correct.

As the learner progresses through the interaction, the trash can quickly becomes hard to see with all the Post-its covering it up. Not ideal.


Example With Drag-and-Drop States

In this version, I’ve added Drop Correct states on all of the Post-its. When the learner correctly places the Post-its on the bulletin board, a pin appears. And when they put the correct Post-its in the trash, they’re crumpled up. This visual cue confirms to the learner that they’ve placed these objects onto the correct drop targets. Not to mention that it keeps the slide looking tidy, and the trash can clearly visible.

For this example I didn’t create a Drop Incorrect state, but I certainly could have! As always, it’s up to you, as the course designer, to decide how best to use these features. Obviously, there are many other ways to use drag-and-drop states, this is just one example. Like this example? You’re in luck! You can download the template here for free.

Start Using Drag-and-Drop States

Ready to try using drag-and-drop states but not sure where to start? Here are some great resources to help you get the hang of it!

Want to try something you learned here, but don’t have Storyline? Download a free trial of Articulate 360, which includes Storyline 360—the latest version of Storyline with continuously updated new features. And come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.