Earlier this morning, I was trawling through my feeds and came across this interesting post on Cathy Moore’s blog. She points to a really great example of a branching scenario, an activity called ‘Connect with Haji Kamal’. The online scenario is the homework part of a lesson plan that includes in-class discussion about how to build rapport across cultures; part of a larger toolkit for military educators to strengthen soldiers’ cross-cultural and peacekeeping skills.
Further she elucidates the design decisions made – defining goals, making a choice to use a branching scenario based on the original content, creating a flow chart to track the multiple paths (12 in the Haji Kamal activity), adding a second level of choices to impart depth to the scenario, and choosing to use minimal media to ensure a focus on the story and content. While each decision point was crucial in the design of the experience, I’m especially drawn to the minimal use of media. Sure plotting and writing the script takes a lot of time, but as Cathy mentions, there’s a fair bit of graphic design, flash programming, QA as well.
When considering media choices, they clearly identified that video is the best option, it was beyond budgetary and time constraints. So they adopted a ‘second best’ approach – the use of comics. It’s interesting to see that they were still able to develop a engaging interaction while obviously doing so on a budget. I’m making a simple point really – ‘engaging’ elearning is not about media choice.
Media choice is often (not always) what determines a large part of eLearning development cost. (the use of video vs. comic in Haji Kamal). You can have learning that’s just as engaging without busting the bank, choose wisely.