Learning can be fun – really!

brain-partsIn preparing for a talk I’m giving the week of the 24th at a conference, I started looking at the different programs I use to create interactive learning. I wanted to have a few examples to share rather than just talking about it or showing screen shots with PowerPoint. At the same time, I was working on some courses I will be co-teaching on the brain. I wanted to add an additional interactive component and also update a short video I created for an earlier version of the class. Here’s what I used:

Interactive Component:

The subject I was working with was brain basics. This is a module that gives an overview of the brain, it’s parts and their major functions. The coursework includes reading and videos and I wanted to make sure the learning stuck, so I created a drag and drop model of the brain functions and the lobes the functions were activated by. To create the drag and drop I used Storyline Articulate 360. I’ve mentioned this program in previous posts and highly recommend it. One caveat is that it is not cheap. However, you can get group licenses that make it much more affordable, so give the free trial a try and see if it is worth the price for you. I use it frequently for online course presentations, so find it well worth the cost.

To start, I added an image of the brain (see above) that was colorful and high quality. I bought the image from Adobe Stock photos, to which I have a monthly membership. Again, not cheap, but I find that the search engine is easy to use, and the quality is high. I only get 10 images a month, so I only use it when there are no other options, or I have a specific need I can’t find an image for elsewhere. This was one such case.

I imported the image into Storyline, although I could have set it up in PowerPoint and imported the whole file, I decided to do it all in one program. I usually do so when I don’t feel I will need the presentation for anything else (i.e. a talk, etc.) and it requires little manipulation (transition, multiple slides).

matching-colorsI created box titles that matched the color of my brain lobes to associate the words with the lobes – another learning tool.  I made sure they matched exactly, by using the eyedropper tool to get the color of the lobe and use it to fill the box. I used the same color for the arrows from the boxes to the titles.

The next part was a little tedious, but easy to do. I created text boxes of each function, being sure to name each function in the timeline so it was easy to find and associate with the appropriate brain lobe. I chose a font (Calibri light) that was easy to read and a size that was easy to see. I created a box to put the functions in as a list. Since each was its own text box, they could be grabbed individually and dropped on the appropriate lobe.

After I did that, I saved the file, then > click on insert > convert to freeform. When you choose freeform, it will open a page that gives you multiple options. I chose drag and drop.

Next, a form with drag and drop targets opens. I knew that I wanted all my functions to be dragged to one of four lobes and the brain stem and Cerebellum, which equals six drops. When I named each of the drop locations, I named them, as I had the functions, so they would be easily recognizable when choosing the drop targets (i.e. frontal, occipital, temporal, etc.).


To make it go faster, I picked all my drag targets first. I then went back and added the drop targets as they varied.

drag-options2Once I completed assigning each drag and drop target, I looked at the drag and drop options. I chose tile so they would fit inside the box without being on top of each other. I also asked that they be returned to the starting point if dropped outside the correct box. That way they could try multiple times since the point of the exercise is to increase memory/knowledge, not get a grade. I also set up a button for retry, which allowed the user to send all the functions back to the list and try multiple times, until they felt they had captured the information in their long-term memory. I could have added sounds to correct/incorrect answers, but find it intrusive, so I chose not to do so.

On preview, I found that some of the functions didn’t fit well in the boxes, so I set up a trigger to change the font size when dropped on a correct target to a smaller size.

Once finished, I tested it multiple times to work out any bugs/issues and then published it. I published it as a stand alone file (for CD/DVD) and also as a SCORM package for online training. It can also be published as a webpage. Another option is to set it up for review in Review 360 so you can share it for review with others. I’ve done so and you can view/try it here.  Leave a review and let me know what you think.

Tomorrow, I will add a post about the short video I updated using Sparkol VideoScribe.



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