Changing your perspective on gamification

Board games

Chris Dunkley is part of the talented team of multimedia designers at eWorks. He is particularly interested in graphic and user experience design. Here, Chris offers advice about the effective use of gamification in e-learning in order to improve the learning experience for students.

Using gamification in learning program design

It’s easy to dismiss gamification as just the latest trendy, marketing buzzword. The term is sometimes associated with the transformation of serious educational content into something which is frivolous. Some gamification techniques can seem like tricks designed to push students through content that is otherwise ineffective, by offering artificial and extrinsic rewards for doing so. It’s easy to argue that these are bad things, but the core ideas that underpin the gamification are good ones. As with any design, gamification must be applied thoughtfully and judiciously to be successful.

Define your success criteria

Success criteria should reward those who engage with the content. A student could, for example, be rewarded for completing a quiz as this demonstrates that he or she has understood the content. A less effective reward would be given for visiting every page in the content, this simply implies that the student has paged through each page of the content and may not have engaged with it at all. When designing your content you need to be clear about the goals you want your students to meet.

Common gamification techniques

Try telling a story with your content. Lending context to actions that the student is required to make can greatly help the student understand why certain actions are required in certain scenarios. Levels and badges can also be used to indicate when a student has achieved something. Levels can be good for showing linear progress through content while badges are best for highlighting individual achievements that may be non-linear.

Gamification should be about learning, not technology

Simply using a high tech solution to a problem doesn’t make it more effective than a low tech solution. Gamification principles can be employed at any level of technology and to any existing e-learning software. Gamification is an approach to design that makes your content more game-like. It’s not about using better technology, or about creating a game that contains learning. It’s about using game elements to improve the learning experience.

Contact eWorks to learn how to apply the principles of gamification to your digital content.

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5 tips for designing Lectora courses

In our experience building over a hundred Lectora courses for a wide variety of clients, we’ve come to realise that making great-looking Lectora courses is a cumulative result of many factors. It’s the little details that will separate a course from the pack and give it that all-important professional feel.

The following tips are a good foundation for getting the structure and layout of your courses set up in a way that will not only produce a better-looking course, but also one that is easier to edit and maintain.

Display images at their native resolution

Let’s start with a basic one: a good rule in general is to avoid scaling images. When you scale an image up or down, Lectora uses a process called interpolation to add or subtract pixels from the image. The result is often a slightly blurry image that just doesn’t look right. Showing all your images at their native resolution will ensure that they have a uniform level of detail and that you’re not including files in your course that are far bigger (in terms of file size) than they need to be.

Inheritance

It’s important to understand that objects that appear on base (or parent) layers of your course will also appear on sub (or child) layers of your course. You can use this feature to cut down on duplicated elements. For example, maybe you have navigation buttons on every page. Using this technique you only need to include the buttons once on the base layer and they will be inherited on all sub-layers. This makes updating the presentation far easier since changes made on this base layer will affect all sub-layers as well. In general, if you have to update multiple instances of the same thing every time you make a change, you should consider using inheritance instead.

Exclude items where it makes sense

Along the same lines as the previous tip, where it’s possible to include objects from parents, it’s also possible to exclude objects where necessary. Let’s take our navigation buttons example from the previous tip. Maybe on the first and last page, you want to hide one of the buttons to make the student’s navigation options clearer. By opening a pages’ Properties menu and going to the Inherit tab, you can include or exclude objects from parents. Good uses for this might be enabling or disabling decorations, branding or instructions that are duplicated across most screens in your course.

Turn off compression when publishing

While Lectora’s built-in compression settings may help bring down file sizes, they also limit your control of the quality level. The results can be quite bad. A better solution, if it’s available and you have the required software, is to ensure any asset you import into Lectora is already compressed to your desired level. Image editing applications such as Adobe Photoshop have robust features for this purpose and will do a better job compressing your images than Lectora’s built-in feature.

Line things up

Finally, we have another basic but important tip; ensure that the position of objects in your course follows some kind of logic. By doing so, you will greatly increase the professional appeal of your courses. Straight lines almost always look nicer! To help make sure everything is positioned nicely you can drag out guidelines from Lectora’s rulers or even turn on a grid. It’s something that people often don’t notice on a conscious level, but it makes a big difference to the final product.


Hopefully these tips have put you in good stead for your future Lectora adventures. Using Lectora’s features intelligently will help keep your courses loading fast, looking good and make them easier to maintain.

Harness the sun, Toolbox of the month

Harness the sun Toolbox

Harness the sun was developed to support UEE42007 Certificate IV in Electrical – Photovoltaic Systems. It addresses three units from this qualification that are required by licensed electricians to operate as accredited designers and installers of photovoltaic systems.

Photovoltaic systems were formally a niche product but are now used to provide cost-effective, zero-greenhouse emission energy to national homes and businesses. Over the last decade, photovoltaic has been the world’s most rapidly growing energy source, with markets increasing at a compounded rate of above 40% per year over this period.

The Australian government offers rebates to individuals and organisations, but only if photovoltaic systems are installed by accredited installers. There will be increased demand for these installers, who must already be qualified electricians, and increased training opportunities will need to be provided.

To purchase the Harness the sun Toolbox, or for the complete list of Flexible Learning Toolboxes, please visit the National VET Content website.