E-learning: Incorporating Text
Once you have your outline and storyboard (or at least a cocktail napkin with your plan of attack written on it), begin to think about how to work interaction, animation, video and audio into your program.
Vary the presentation of information into formats that force different parts of the brain (or actually different neural systems) to go to work and store the information in the form of memory.
This can be done, for example, by presenting information in one form (e.g. text on the screen stating a fact), then including an audio or video clip of something related that fact, then using the information to help the student create his or her own visualization of the fact. This last step could come in the form of a quiz that asks questions forcing the student to use reasoning to combine the two facts in order to come up with the correct answer. Or, it could be turned into a game that takes the student through a process that draws into play the two related bits of information.
Trainersoft's tools were developed specifically to address the idea of creating courses using this infrastructure. This type of process helps the brain weave together those bits of information that were stored in different neural systems for better retention and recall of the information -- in other words, more effective training.
Text isn't necessarily seen as multimedia, but it is an important element in e-learning. The problem with many e-learning programs is that the developers have simply taken their existing text-based teaching and put it on the computer screen. The interactivity of the program consists of reading text and then clicking on an arrow to proceed to the next page. You have to use some text, but you can do it responsibly. Keep it to no more than six lines per screen and intersperse it with other elements. Also, don't overdo your text animations.
Trainersoft allows you to have text appear and disappear, or simply move to another location on the screen, within pre-set time increments or upon a click or rollover of the mouse. Using this type of animation may make more sense in many training instances. For example, you might have an audio clip that ends with a question posed to the student. If the student doesn't respond within a set amount of time, text could pop up that gives a hint or instructs the student to do something else.
Trainersoft also includes a function that allows you to index all of the text within the course. This makes it easy for a student to search for specific terms or formulas without having to go back through every screen.
On the next page, we'll talk about incorporating video.