How are variables used in elearning?

Jul 06, 2011

What are some advanced ways to make elearning more interactive? Specifically, I'm thinking of variables and logic-based interactions.

I'm not a programmer, but I would like to design more interactive courses that leverage variables to provide more meaningful learning experiences.

Most people I talked to mentioned things like advanced quizzes and feedback. That's helpful, but I have most everything I need in Quizmaker. Or am I missing something?

Do you have any examples or ideas for how such advanced options would be used in elearning?

7 Replies
Gerry Wasiluk

Let me give you an actual example that a few folks use here at 3M and have to do now in Lectora.  They only let folks try to pass a quiz in the LMS three times. 

Each time a quiz is attempted, a developer-created counter variable is raised by one (as variable information can be stored in and retrieved from the LMS, which is what Articulate does for its bookmark). 

Once the counter reaches three, the quiz disappears from view and the course is assigned a "failed" status, which then, in our Saba system, sends the enrollment to the learner's ttranscript as unsuccessful.

Variables, as what we hear will be supported in Articulate Storyline, offer a whole realm of possible uses.   It's pretty exciting for us Articulate users.

Wait till some of the programming types here add to this thread--it ought to be pretty eye opening what variables can do.

Gerry Wasiluk

I could also see this in a course with individual modules where you want to let the learner roam through the course the way they like.  When they reach the end of a module, a variable gets sets for that module. 

When a learners has seen all the courses (and has accumulated all the variables) they can then get to the final quiz or test or whatever is needed for passing.  Or, if you have your own menu of modules, have a check mark appear when they viewed a module.

Or simple personalization:  have the learner enter their name at the beginning of the course as a variable (or retrieve from the LMS if using one) and use that in your slide text from time-to-time. Say on slide 7--"Hey [Gerry]--remember this when using the widget" type of thing.

James Brown


Variables are an interesting topic because they can store all sorts of information. You can use them as Gerry expressed as a counter but there are much more uses for them. Let me see if I can shed some more light.

Variables are typically used as Boolean Operators such as True or False. What I mean is they can store a value of Yes this condition is true or no this condition is false. However they can be used for a lot more applications than just that. With variables you can allow users to customize their own color scheme or to set the own resolution setting. Variables can store information that may be referenced throughout the entire program such as a date, time, an array, a score from a game, or they can be used to store the person's name, address, etc until that information is written to a database. 

In a recent example I saw posted by Tom, he was trying to give a tutorial on filling out a form except the information that was being filled in was being lost. With variables, you could store and display that information and based on information in a variable you could present the end user with an message like, "Correct" or Incorrect.

Variables may also be used for branching scenarios where you want to keep track of what parts of a presentation a person has watched and which portions they have not and based on that grey out menu items or jump to a specific spot based on the input from a user. I.e. if the person got the question right jump to slide A but if the person got the answer wrong jump to Slide B. I've only mentioned a little bit about variables, but the ability to use variables is a huge step forward for Articulate.

Thomas Smith

Hi All!Yes I used variables to get users name when starting the lesson, and then customise messages to them as they progressed through the lesson.  I also used a totalpages and viewed pages variable to keep track of how far they were and give them feedback to encourage them on if they pressed their 'status' button...   

A tip for those interested, to count page completions I found it easier and more reliable to count when timeline ends than when user clicks to move to next page, and also you have to be cognisant of order of execution of triggers affecting variables as it can affect the process.

Does anyone have any example of how one could retrieve from LMS in Storyline the user's name so they dont have to type it in?  or to post info to LMS?  Mostly for now I am interested in retrieving from LMS.

Also right now I am doing a form completion simulation, how can I send a drag and drop score to a variable that can be read and used by other variables in SL?




Bruce Graham

Hi Carla,

Nowadays, unless I have to, I do not "drive" courses via the standard menu, but use a central slide-based menuing system in the course.

This allows, (IMHO) for a cleaner and more streamline looking course, (as mentioned by Gerry above).

I have attached a .story file here so that you can see how it works.

  • There are 6 True/False Variables, one for each of the image slides. These are initially set to False.
  • When the slides are visited, and the "Next" button is pressed, just before the course jumps to the next slide, (with Triggers, the order is important...) the Variable is re-set to "True".
  • The course then jumps back to the Menu Slide, the timeline starts again, but because the Variable has now changed to True, the button states now change!

It's all relatively straightforward when you get the hang of it.

Hope that helps in your understanding.


Bruce Graham

...and the nice thing about Storyline is that you can easily add new "secret" buttons etc. to pop-up at any point, by having them set at Initial State = Hidden, and then just activating them when you need to.

This adds a wonderful dimension for interest and FUN in corporate training,

YES! You ARE allowed to have fun


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