Would love feedback on my first project

Hi. I just created my first project in Storyline. I would love for people in this forum to look at it and provide feedback and suggestions. Although, I'm using the 30-day trial and I only have eight days left so I don't know if I'll have time to make major changes.

Here's the link to it: http://bit.ly/1tF962c (it will open in a new window)

I'm going to remove the project from that link once I've gotten some feedback.

My main concerns with the project:

• I'm concerned about the pacing. Do the word balloons appear/disappear too quickly? Too slowly?

* I'm wondering if the right answers for most questions are too obvious so the learner isn't required to think enough when making a choice.

* I'm also wondering about the opposite: are the right answers too unclear, which encourages too much guessing?

• Most of the questions are of the true/false variety. I tried to focus on having unique responses for each choice, so keeping the choices to true/false made that a lot easier to implement. But I'm wondering if having mostly true/false questions hurts the project.

• If you go through the whole project, I'd love to know what your final score is and if you replayed any rounds. The ending you see depends on your score but I don't know if I've determined the tiers of scores correctly.

• I have one lightbox slide (Credits/Bibliography) that can be accessed anytime. I tried opening it (by clicking its link) at various times when previewing my project. In some cases, when I closed the lightbox slide, the project did not resume where it had left off. Is there a way to solve this issue?

Here's more info on the project:

• I made it because someone who works for a Fortune 500 company said he might be able to get work for me — at his company and elsewhere — as an instructional designer. I'd never heard of instructional design before talking with him.

• He told me to read Michael Allen's book "Guide to E-learning" and then create a 10- to 15-minute sample project in Storyline. He suggested the topic of conducting effective business meetings because it's a topic that is relevant to all companies.

• I'm not an expert on business meetings, so he suggested I read some books on the topic. I based the project mostly on one book that seemed insightful, although its suggestions might be considered radical.

One additional question: I'm not sure how reliable the guy at the Fortune 500 company is. If he can't help me find work as an instructional designer, does my project display enough skills that I might be able to find some work on my own? I don't plan to buy Storyline ($1300 is a lot of money to me) unless I can quickly earn enough money as an instructional designer to pay for it.

Thanks!

D.

(Also, my full first name is revealed in the project, but please call me D. on here. I like having some anonymity in Google's search results.)

12 Replies
Jennifer Beard

Hi D.

I think you've done a great job of making the topic entertaining! Well done!

I would say that having timed on-screen text can be tricky, since different people have different reading speeds. So, a speed that may be frustratingly slow for some may not be slow enough for others. To combat this, have you considered allowing the users to navigate through the speech bubbles at their own pace (i.e. providing them with controls)? For me, the text progressed a little too quickly.

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to work through all of the rounds, so I didn't reach the end, but of the questions I did see I think for a beginner level they're probably pitched at the right sort of level; it certainly isn't my area of expertise and I was able to answer correctly first time for most of them. I did, however, question the agenda activity and whether each of the dragable activities would really all be included in an agenda.

The resume issue you mentioned with your lightbox slide may be due to the settings you have on the slides you're returning to. If you check the slide settings you should be able to set the 'when revisiting' option to 'resume saved state'.

I think this is a great first project, I have to say. It shows how easily you were able to pick up many of the features of Storyline and to use them to deliver a simple but entertaining narrative-driven piece of learning. It should help you to showcase the different types of activities and storytelling devices you can incorporate into your learning solutions in the future.

Hope this helps, and best of luck with your project!

Jen

Harri C

Hi,

I've had a quick look at your project - on the whole I like the style and the comedy, it certainly brings the content to life!

Here are a few observations:

Timing of captions: As you mentioned in your thread, I found that some of the captions disappeared too quickly for me to read. This is an issue I've come across in projects before because you cannot possibly account for the learning speed of all of your learners. To combat this in the past we've added next buttons to the captions so the learner can decide when to reveal the next one.

Audio: I enjoyed the narration style and choice of words/phrases. It all seemed very natural and was engaging to listen to. Unfortunately, I had my sound turned off to begin with and saw no indication that there was audio. I'd suggest putting instructions on the title page to let people know there is narration and adding a transcript panel so that people can read the content if they cannot (for various reasons) access the audio.

Navigation: As a learner I'd like to be able to choose when I go to the next page, giving people a sens of control gives them a sense of ownership for their learning.

Hope this helps, and good luck with the job opportunity

Harri

D. Mirsky

Jennifer and Harri, thanks so much for looking at my project. I was hoping more people would look as well, but your suggestions are still very helpful.

I'm going to respond to each of you individually below, but feel free to read and respond to anything I've written to either of you.

Jennifer:

I was hoping the pacing of my word balloons would work for most people, but you're right that people read at various speeds. I only briefly considered having controls for the learner to move through the project and the word balloons. I thought the project would seem less elegant that way, because the learner would be constantly hitting the next button, or whatever other controls I provide.

When deciding not to add controls for moving through the project, I was thinking of movies with subtitles. I watch a fair number of foreign movies and usually I can follow the subtitles.

However, I take your opinions very seriously. I only have seven days left on the trial version of Storyline, but I may try to create a second version of the project where I provide controls for the learner to move through the word balloons at their own pace; it depends if I have enough time. Do you think adding one layer for each word balloon is the right way to do it?

I'm also wondering: do you have any suggestions on how I could add controls? Should I use the standard Next button or do you think I should create something myself? The upside of the standard Next button is that it doesn't intrude on the slide's content. On the other hand, the Next button appears at the beginning of a slide's timeline; so the learner could keep clicking the Next button to fast forward through the project — something I don't want. If I create my own controls, I could make sure they appear only after a word balloon has appeared.

I will also go through all my slides to make sure "resume saved state" is selected for all of them.

Also, thanks for the kind words. I'm glad that, even though the pacing needs work, you were able to test the project enough to determine that there were aspects of it you liked.

Harri:

Thanks for your feedback and I'm glad the style worked for you. As for the speed of the word balloons, it's good to know they are too fast for you. I will look into slowing them down a little bit.

As I said above to Jennifer, I may also try to create a second version of the project that allows the learner to move through the word balloons at their own pace. But I have the same questions for you that I have for Jennifer: do you have any suggestions on how I could add controls? Should I use the standard Next button or do you think I should create something myself?

Also, as I asked Jennifer: If I do create a second version, do you think I should create one layer for each word balloon?

As for the audio, I will add a disclaimer on the title slide, as you suggested, telling the learner to make sure their sound is turned on.

Thanks again to you both!

D.

Bruce Graham

D.

I am sure more people will look and comment - it's only been 2 days over a weekend! 

Too many comments at once can be a little overwhelming too, so perhaps now start my making the changes as suggested, then re-post, and see what comes in then. Iterative changes rather than "big bang" can sometimes be easiest.

Hope that helps a bit.

Bruce Graham

OK - now had a look at the first round 7500 scored..

As Nick says - some GREAT promise, really nicely themed.

You made one statement - that meetings were all about "..decision making".

I hope that was not borne out by the other sections - as they are not.

Decision-making is the first part, after that, they should be about who does when, in what timescale, and the risks of non-conformance. Put simply, they are about ACTION and ASSIGNING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, and so many people miss this critical point.

D. Mirsky

Thanks Bruce and Nick for your comments! For some reason, I didn't get any emails telling me you'd posted them.

Nick: I totally agree that the subject matter isn't ideal for Storyline. Although, after creating my project, I realized there are two projects in Storyline's showcase on the same topic. But I agree that the best way to show how to conduct successful meetings is with video examples; I thought that too as I was reading books on the topic, but having videos of good and bad meetings is beyond my budget. If I were getting paid to create the project, then I would have suggested including video.

Bruce: I don't harp on decision-making in the rest of the tutorial except for one exercise in Round 2 in which the learner has to arrange the elements of an agenda. But I totally respect your opinion. I don't have a lot of personal experience with business meetings, so I mostly based my project on a book that had some radical suggestions on cutting down meetings.

D. Mirsky

Hi everyone. I'm still having some problems with my lightbox slide, which I mentioned above. I have more details below after trying to troubleshoot the problem:

As I mentioned before: the problem I'm having is that when I close the lightbox slide, the project doesn't always resume playing where it left off and so the project completely stops.

Jennifer had suggested that I change my slides' settings for "when revisiting" to "resume saved state." I had previously chosen "reset to initial state" for all my slides because if the learner replays a round then I want that round to be replayed from its initial state.

I did some experimenting, though, and I set some slides to "resume saved state" and that didn't solve the problem.

I also noticed that the problem never occurs on the base layer of a slide. It only occurs when one of the other layers is active.

So I did some more experimenting. On those non-base layers, I unchecked "Pause timeline of base layer." That seemed to solve the problem. When I opened the lightbox slide and then closed it, the project resumed where it had left off.

The remaining problem, though, is that for some of my slides' layers, I need to pause the timeline of the base layer. So, for those slide layers, if the learner opens and closes the lightbox slide, my project is still going to stop.

I'm wondering if there are any other workarounds. 

Thanks!
D.
Kevin Thorn

Hey D.

Nicely done. For someone who's never heard of "Instructional Design" you're off on a great foot! This world has many layers and a lot of moving parts as I'm sure you experienced on this first go. That said, excellent job!

I'm not going to comment on whether this subject should or shouldn't be elearning. In the end, it's whatever the client wants. Depending on your path into this career field you'll learn more about offering suggestions for how to treat content. Personally, with time and careful design a self-paced elearning on meetings could be done correctly. That's for another discussion.

As for your speech bubbles, I agree that everyone has a different reading pace. Plus, as others mentioned, not having the ability to control the navigation from a user's perspective is (or can be) frustrating.

Since your theme is comic-based style, I'd suggest reading motion comics on apps like Comixology, Madefire, or Narr8. They each have unique forward and backward navigation within a panel of speech bubbles. Comic pacing is another skill and a great book for that subject is "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud.

The resume function not loading or delaying is hard to tell without troubleshooting. Take a look at the size of the audio loop music file. That lightbox doesn't appear to have any "heavy" objects, but there may be a problem with the size of the audio file trying to preload. Just a guess.

And I so gotta get me one those meeting zapper things!

D. Mirsky

Hi again.

Bruce: I realize I have a terrible memory — even regarding my own project. I forgot that I talk about decision-making a little more in Round 3 too.

Kevin:

Thanks a lot for your thoughts! I did briefly look at Madefire. I tried to look at Comixology too, but viewing their comics seem a bit more complicated. I plan to check out Narr8 as well. And I'll buy that book if I end up impressing the guy at the Fortune 500 company with my project. Right now I'm trying to slow the pacing of the balloons a little bit. I still don't know if I'll create a second version of my project that allows the learner to move through the speech balloons at their own pace.

In terms of the lightbox issue: my project has 38 slides and the lightbox issue is only occurring on about four slides. That's not perfect, but it's not terrible. I thought the problem occurred only on non-base layers that have "Pause timeline of base layer" checked, but there is one slide where the lightbox issue occurs and that slide has "Pause timeline of base layer" unchecked. I'm not sure what to do to solve the problem, so I will probably just leave it as is.

Thanks again!

D.

Kevin Thorn

Hey D.

Interactive comics is takes on a different design methodology for pacing, navigation, pacing, etc. In my experience, pacing is probably the highest priority due to different reading speeds. If you want to ensure all learners get the maximum experience, you might consider adding voice actors to each of your characters.

One thing to consider is splitting the conversation into independent slides. Meaning, character 1 speech bubble appears, character 2 speech bubble appears, and maybe a second bubble appears under character 1's initial bubble. All speech bubbles within that exchange remain on screen. On the next slide, start with the ending view of the previous slide and fade out those speech bubbles so the next exchange in the conversation can appear. This practice keeps the main conversation on screen for all reading paces along with the ability to navigate backward if needed.

Splitting the conversation across slides allows you to express the visual design and emphasis on camera angles, close-ups, pans, etc. while still maintaining the environment and context.

If you study interactive comics, the pacing is set up similarly. This is where the learner clicks to advance or in a motion comic swipes or taps to move to the next panel.

I did a comic project last year following these principles. You can view it here.

As for your lightbox issue, it's difficult to troubleshoot here. If you can share the .story file I'll take a look.

D. Mirsky

Kevin, thanks for your additional thoughts.

I looked at your comic project and I'm impressed. Did you do the drawings yourself or did you work with an illustrator?

In terms of how I'd reorganize the project to let the learner move through it at their own pace: I was thinking of doing it the way you described. Although, I was thinking in some cases I'd just add more layers to a slide, versus creating new slides. But my project is now 38 slides. Splitting up the conversation will probably result in doubling the number of slides, so I'm leaning towards not doing it for this project.

Having voice actors read all the word balloons is also a good idea. I didn't do it because it would cost too much money. I don't know how much the actors for your project cost, but I think hiring actors to record all my word balloons would cost hundreds of dollars. I used fiverr.com where the main voice-actor charged $5 for every 200 words.

In terms of sharing my project so you can look into the lightbox issue: that's nice of you to offer to look at it. My project is about 29 MB. I could compress it and post it, but it'll still be large. Should I upload it to my Dropbox account and give you the link?

Thanks again.

D.

D. Mirsky

Thanks again everyone for the feedback. I've now removed the project from the link provided above.

My Storyline trial period has also expired, so i can't make any more changes.

I do have some questions about how to find work as instructional designer, though. But I'm going to post that in another thread.

Thanks again.