Using a PDF guide as navigation for scenarios

Hey hey heroes!

I'm reaching out to the forum for some ideas. I have a course that presents the learner with scenarios for specific customer needs. The learner is then asked to use the PDF guide to find the answer, with feedback provided. 

Does anyone one have creative ideas to use the PDF as the template? And create interactivity and feedback within the PDF? 

Please let let me know if I should clarify! I feel like there's a cool way to do this. 


12 Replies
Bryan Jones

Katie- You can get pretty creative and interactive with a PDF. What opens up the possibilities is that PDFs can carry hyperlinks. While the content might be linear, you can use hyperlinks to skip around the content. Think of this approach like a "choose your own adventure book." You can have scenarios, with choices that lead to different parts of your story. If you want to share an example of what a typical scenario might look like, I can help you brainstorm a solution.

Matthew Bibby

Katie, does it need to be a PDF? Why not create the guidebook in Storyline along with the rest of your course? I've done similar in the past and set it so that the guidebook would jump to a particular page and even highlight particular information depending on the context in which it was opened. 

If you do go with the Captivate option of publishing to PDF, be aware that the PDF will only work if opened in Adobe Reader. If opened on a mobile device or using a different PDF reader it will just display as a blank page.

Katie Evans



A customer walks into a dealership and inquires about a service that lets them know when their oil life needs a change.

What I want:

Using this PDF guidebook, direct the car salesman to reference the PDF guidebook and find the answer.

Does that make sense? If you could post your example of how you did this "Create your own adventure book", that'd help!

Matthew Bibby

Hi Katie,

I just built the guidebook on a series of layers on a slide master and added an 'Open Guidebook' button.

Then in the course I used variables to track the learner's progress and set up some triggers so that the workbook would open to the relevant section based on where the learner was in the course. Does that make sense?

Bryan Jones


For what you're trying to do, what I'd suggest is that you build 2 things:

1- Your scenarios

2- The guidebook

Matthew's approach of linking to sections of the PDF is a good one. Or if the point is that they need to get familiar with finding the right sections, send them out to the whole doc.

Use the scenarios to set the scene and encourage the learner to go out to the PDF "job aid" as a reference. Experienced salespeople will get through the scenarios quickly, without referencing the PDF, while beginners will need to reference the PDF to complete the scenario. You can also build the feedback into the scenario (e.g. the wrong choice leads to a bad consequence).

My point about the linear linking would be for non-storyline tools (Storyline actually makes it way easier with layering, triggers, etc). But books, powerpoints, PDFs, can still be "engaging" when you break free of linear and think more in terms of a "choose your own adventure".

Your scenario is a good start. Can you give me 3 wrong answers and one correct answer? And also give some feedback for each choice? I'll then show you what you can do in either approach. NOTE: make the 3 "wrong" answers reasonable, but not quite right.

Steve Flowers

We created a few of these some years ago for SCBA tank refilling equipment. Called it a companion set. As Bryan describes above, the job aids were built separate from the training component. This way we could have the trackable element and still retain the ability to make the tool available without a login, to be used locally, or still be useful / functional if printed out. The scenarios posed challenges that required the use of the job aid / guide. This prevented us from having to put content on a conveyor (a cruel and often wasteful activity). All of the support content and details were in the job aid. 

This doesn't work for everything. But it's a darn good way to go in a lot of casesWrote something last year that breaks out what I call "design formations" into four subcomponents:

  • Prepare
  • Practice
  • Measure
  • Support

In the case Bryan describes above, the self-paced component could serve as practice and measure. The job aid (if print) could be support with a minor preparation role. Or you could add some preparation elements to boost certain capacities, provide a conceptual overview, etc... Capacities like:

  • Skills (decision / cognitive component skills when we're talking about electronic delivery)
  • Confidence
  • Perspective
  • Connections (if you add a social networking component)
  • Or things that are harder to build but possible to seed like grit, insight, and empathy

All depends on where folks are planning to use the tools. Point is, there is rarely a need to tightly bundle everything into a single boxed package. Sometimes that makes sense, but often... you want to support people where they do the work. And in the field or on the show floor, that's not at a computer

Matthew Bibby
Katie Evans

Kind of - I'm a visual learner though so I don't understand how it all works! I'm still new to eLearning development.

What kind of variables did you use?

I just tracked what section of the course the learner was in and used that to determine where to open the guidebook (e.g., if CurrentSection = 1, show layer 'Guidebook 1' or if CurrentSection = 2, show layer 'Guidebook 2' and so on). The guidebook wasn't a PDF, but was actually part of the Storyline package.

As Bryan and Steve have mentioned, it is often beneficial to have job aids separate from the main course. In your case, if this guidebook is something that the salespeople will need to refer to during their day-to-day work, then it would be better to use the actual PDF as they would then be more comfortable/familiar with it.