Interactive Media-Rich Branching Scenarios

Hi there,

I work as an IT trainer and e-learning developer in an NHS Trust. I was recently in discussion with a consultant who is really (really!) keen to develop e-learning that demonstrates to newly qualified clinicians how they could approach clinical decision-making and that shows the consequences of poor or unfounded decisions, while not necessarily penalising inventiveness and resourcefulness. We are talking about branching scenarios that reach positive and not so positive outcomes based on patient presentation, history, diagnoses, the choice of tests requested and their results, conversations with patients and other healthcare professionals, etc.

I showed him this terrific branching scenario by Cathy Moore and the modelling behind it is exactly the design approach needed for his projects. However, he is hoping for more of a playable, acted out, television show interface with the junior doctor trainee as the protagonist, and his/her choices and actions deciding how the story unfolds (and the outcome for the patient). I.e. he wants  a look that is more like Netflix Bandersnatch or Minecraft - Story Mode, rather than a static Fighting Fantasy gamebook, as this will truly hold the attention and interest of our young clinicians.

Do any of you have experience of developing such video-based scenario courseware using Articulate Storyline 360? It of course does not need to have a medical theme!

And (my predictable next question is) would you care to please share a demo or snippet of it?

Also, and I know this is a big ask, would you be happy to please share details of the problems, both expected and unexpected, that you had to overcome and, indeed, anything else (e.g. your course durations, development timescales, development team size & skillset, etc.) that would help my hospital start to gauge the work involved in a similar project.

Yours humbly,

5 Replies
Ray Cole

I'm currently working on a safety course that falls somewhere in between. It immerses you in an authentic work space (first-person) mainly by using photographs to put you (the learner) in that space. Over that, there is an overlay of animations to allow for learner actions to be made visible (e.g., things like pouring a liquid chemical from a beaker into a larger container).

To get from static scene to static scene, we're using silent video clips that move between each pair of locations. So when the learner chooses to move from his or her current location (say, from his or her desk) to a new one (say, to a storage bin nearby), the video makes the geography of that transition clear.

I don't have enough of this built yet to show, though.

My feeling is that using video for everything will likely create problems for you later, when the inevitable review feedback comes in and you need to make small changes. It seems self-evident that changes will be far easier and less costly to make to still images and simple animations than to video sequences.

Christiana Awojinrin

Thanks Ray! That’s a very salient point about review changes (or indeed any type of update). Perhaps a mix of photographs and  animations, with a few short video sequences of  key pivot points in the decision tree (e.g. the patient mentioning a drug allergy) - would be a more maintainable way to proceed. 

Ray Cole

Hi Christiana,

Since a picture is worth a 1000 words, I put together a short Peek video showing a little piece of the course I'm working on so you can see an example of how we're using video to transition from one scene to the next, but otherwise sticking to still photography and animations for the actual learning interactions.

It's something we're just starting to experiment with, so this is a work in progress. But it may give you some ideas.

Click here to view the Peek recording.



Christiana Awojinrin

Just to repeat what I posted on review to you ...

Thank you so much for sharing this! It's very friendly, clear and educational, and is probably as close to a real life simulation as my hospital can attain without the benefit of a Hollywood-sized budget!  

For the animations, did you use motion paths and clever use of layers? I noticed the neat way that the bottle went into the tray!

Ray Cole

Thanks Christiana. Apparently my laptop isn't powerful enough to play the video of the transition between locations while simultaneously recording it in Peek along with my narration, but you hopefully still get the idea.

For the animation of the bottle going into the bin at the end, I made a copy of a small piece of the background photo and pasted it over the top so that the bottle could animate "behind" it, giving the illusion that it slides into the bin. Fairly basic, but it serves the purpose. The actual animation uses Storyline's Arc motion path.

If you're interested in pursuing this "simulate the job" approach to designing e-learning, then in addition to Kathy Moore's work, another interesting resource is Clark Aldrich's new e-book, Short Sims, which he has made available online for free here. It's filled with useful examples of sims you can actually play.