Engaging learners with interactive video

Matt Mason, eWorks Accredited ConsultantMatt Mason is an award winning instructional designer and the newest addition to the talented team of accredited consultants at eWorks. If you’re Interested in using interactive videos to engage your learners, Matt’s summary of the best tools available to create this powerful type of video will help you get started.

Video is a powerful learning tool…

yet it is often underutilised. Did you know that Youtube has more than one billion unique users each month and over six billion hours of video is watched during this time? The popularity of YouTube and other video sites, such as Vimeo and TED Talks, highlights how much people are engaged when consuming knowledge through video. Video provides a multi-sensory resource, where people can learn by listening, watching and sometimes reading. And now the use of video in learning is even more powerful, with the use of interactive video providing another way for users to engage and learn.

Interactive video increases the learning experience…

by providing learners with the opportunity to interact with the video content. One way that videos can be made interactive is to give learners the option to choose the small chunk of content they want to watch, then choose a path to take based on the scenario provided in the video. Quizzes can even be embedded into the video, allowing for a knowledge check to occur before progressing further. In addition to all of this, the videos play natively in modern browsers and across devices, including tablets and handhelds.

So what are the tools required to create the interactive videos?

Below is my run down on four of the best applications that I have tested so far (in no particular order):

1. Klynt

Klynt is a very straight forward, easy to use application. Users can upload a selection of their videos and, using the mind map like storyboard, can connect the videos together. Hyperlinks can then be applied to the primary screen, which links to the other videos. An example of this can be seen in the Klynt Demo. Klynt has a responsive HTML5 player that can be embedded in a browser or other applications. It also has the ability to add detailed analytics to measure the effectiveness of your video project.

Of the three applications, Klynt has the most affordable pricing option, with a free 14 day trial demo version, a lite edition for a one-time fee of $199, and the pro edition for a one-time fee of $599. Klynt also has the least amount of features, compared to the other two programs. If you are interested in checking out Klynt, you can view their range of tutorials.

2. Rapt Media

Rapt Media also has an easy to use drag-and-drop authoring platform. As with Klynt, Rapt Media allows you to link between videos, allowing users to choose their own path. A great example of this is Deloitte’s interactive recruitment video. Rapt Media has a one-click publishing function, allowing you to publish your video to multiple devices easily. Rapt Media is also cloud-based, giving you easy access to your interactive video files from any internet-enabled device.

While Rapt Media has a slicker interface and output than Klynt, it does come at a cost, with one quote I received for an entry level account starting at $550/month. There is, however, a free account from which you can start building and testing your videos. If you are interested in checking out Rapt Media, view their range of how-tos and tips.

Credits: Amphibious Landing Exercise 2013 by dvids

3. HapYak

HapYak has a large amount of features but it is not as easy to use as Klynt or Rapt Media. It also differs by linking to video files stored elsewhere, rather than uploading the video files to the application. This tool allows you to link to video files hosted on streaming sites (such as YouTube) or hosted on your own website.

It has a range of tools including the ability to build video chapters, hyperlinks in videos and the ability to draw on the video – to point out important details to learners. My favourite function of this tool is the quiz function. Multiple choice quizzes can be built into the video to pop-up over the video screen at pre-determined times, to provide an opportunity to assess understanding of the video content. The quiz results can also be integrated with an LMS. A great example of this can be seen in chapter two of Brightcove’s interactive video (nb. you will need to request a demo).

Hap Yak is also a cheaper option than Rapt Media, with a free plan (up to five interactive videos) and a professional plan of $100/month. If you are interested in checking out HapYak, view their Getting Started Guide.

4. ChatMapper

ChatMapper is an easy to use tool for creating branching dialogues and other non-linear training resources. It is built using an intuitive tree graph, with different nodes showing the branches of the dialogue. This tool can be used in the creation of interactive scenario based videos, where the users make decisions at various points. Each node can be set to branch off to another video file, or a specific time in the existing video file.

ChatMapper is a freemium product. It has a free version with limited functionality. Paid licensing options ($65 and $495) are also available. A fully functional publisher licence (incorporating 3D avatars) is also available. You can see full details of the features and pricing on the ChatMapper website.

It’s time to get started!

Interactive video is an excellent way to engage your learners and make learning enjoyable. And it can also be fun and interesting for you, the designer. So enjoy playing with interactive video, and drop me a line to let me know which application you prefer and why.

VET Toolboxes versus learning objects: what you need to know

Bernadette Parry, eWorks Client Support CoordinatorBernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TrainingVC training, advanced Moodle training and support desk services. Due to an overwhelming response to our Toolboxes sale, we have extended the sale to offer a selection of VET E-learning Toolboxes at half price until Christmas. Think of it as our little Christmas present to you. So now seems like a good time to talk about the difference between VET E-learning Toolboxes and Learning Objects.

Is there any difference in the learning material between the Toolbox and the learning objects?

VET E-learning Toolboxes are integrated learning programs incorporating a number of units of competency that support the delivery of a qualification. The learning is generally scaffolded as a workplace scenario where the learner takes on the role of an employee, creating a ‘real-life’ learning environment as much as possible. These self-paced online courses are ‘ready to go’ and can be undertaken anywhere and anytime – with or without an internet connection. Each Toolbox contains a Teacher Guide and Technical Guide to support implementation, and is available on a CD-ROM for installation on a server, or for use on a standalone computer.

Toolbox Learning Objects are downloadable smaller self-contained components of content. Learning objects generally support an element or unit of competency rather than the delivery of a qualification. A Toolbox may be disaggregated into three or many learning objects depending on its coverage. You might like to think of learning objects as being ‘chapters’ and Toolboxes as complete ‘books’. The learning objects are compliant with SCORM content packaging standards, to enable them to be interoperable with a learning management system (LMS).

Is there any difference in the look of the Toolbox and learning objects?

A Toolbox works like a small website and the navigation is integrated into the interface design. The pages of a learning object are navigated using a dynamic menu created during the SCORM packaging process. The look of the learning object menu is defined by the styling of the learning management system (LMS). The style of the content pages is the same as those in the Toolbox.

Harness the Sun Toolbox

Are Toolboxes and learning objects suitable for use on iPad?

Both Toolboxes and learning objects would need to first be uploaded to a server so that you could access them via your iPad browser. In recent years Apple has ceased to support Flash on the iPad and this has meant that some content will not appear. This is generally restricted to interactive activities only. Any content from the Series 14 Toolboxes (identifiable as the Toolbox number starts with 14.) has been tested on iPads at the time of development. Those that used Flash have provided a fall back (non-Flash alternative) to any interactions. Three especially popular Toolboxes have also recently been updated for use on iPads. It is worth checking that the content you want to use works on your device by viewing the previews in the National VET Content collection first.

Are learning objects and Toolboxes available offline?

Toolboxes can be purchased on CD, in which case they will not require an internet connection in order to run. However, a CD drive and an internet browser (such as IE, Chrome, Mozilla Firefox) are required to run the content. Learning objects are SCORM content packages which are designed to be used within an LMS (which would be on a server). Although learning objects also contain standalone content package players so that they can be used outside an LMS, there are limitations such as the browser and version of it.

Should you buy a Toolbox or download a learning object?

It depends. While learning objects allow you to pick and mix elements to incorporate in your own learning plan or program, Toolboxes are a self-contained resource that has been contextualised by using a workplace scenario with relevant industry support materials. Downloading a learning object can give you a feel for a Toolbox topic, but for a packaged learning program that supports the delivery of a qualification, a Toolbox is the way to go. And with a selection of Toolboxes currently half price, you would be mad not to go for the whole shebang.

The latest in live online classrooms

Big Blue Button Logo

Bronwyn Lapham is a senior technical officer at eWorks. In this role she lives a double life, working within the E-standards for Training activity on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training, and also managing the TVC learning delivery platform helpdesk. BigBlueButton (BBB), which provides the classroom features and tools in eWorks’ TrainingVC, has been upgraded to version 0.91. This means that all TVC clients benefit from a range of new features – here Bronwyn tells us all about it.

Yes! The rumours are true

BigBlueButton has upgraded to version 0.91 and this version has been implemented on all TVC sites. BigBlueButton (BBB) is an open-source online classroom package that we have been working with for years. If you’re not quite up to speed with this package you might like to take a look at our top tips for using BigBlueButton. The upgrade means fantastic new features, especially the nifty little start/stop button for recording sessions.

Start/stop button for recording

Instructors can now mark segments of the recorded session for later publishing using a new start/stop recording button in the toolbar. After the session is over, the BigBlueButton server extracts the marked segments for publishing the recording. This means you can create concise, targeted recordings for distribution. Please note that recording needs to be started specifically, it doesn’t happen automatically.

blue buttonsCredits: Buttons by kaboompics

Audio check

To ensure that users have a functioning microphone when joining a session, BigBlueButton now provides a microphone check for users before they join the session. By encouraging your learners to perform an audio check prior to a session you can get sessions started on time and reduce the faff!

Listen only audio

To quickly join the conference as a listener only (no microphone check), BigBlueButton offers a listen only mode. We’ve all been in that situation when we want to quietly creep into a session.

WebRTC Audio

BigBlueButton now uses web real-time communications (WebRTC) audio for users of Firefox and Chrome, giving them better quality audio. And audio quality can dictate whether or not a learner stays until the end of an online class. Please note that Safari and Internet Explorer will continue to use Flash for audio unless WebRTC plugins are installed. For WebRTC, additional UDP ports need to be opened if there is a firewall in the way. The complete port list is TCP 80, 443, 7443, 9123, and 1935 and UDP 16384-32767. Proxy servers will also prevent web real-time communications audio.

Getting up to speed with BigBlueButton

If you’re not quite sure what BigBlueButton offers, or whether or not it is included as part of your Moodle, simply get in touch with eWorks. And for more information about TVC? Likewise.

ASQA, industry engagement and RTOs: what you should be doing

Allison Miller, eWorks Accredited ConsultantWhat is industry engagement, why should registered training organisations (RTOs) bother with this approach, and what does the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) have to say about it all? Allison Miller explains why this part of the Standards for RTOs 2015 is so important, and how to tick ASQA’s boxes without making life difficult for your industry contacts.

Industry engagement – why bother?

We all want our training, assessment and resources to be relevant to employer and student needs. It is therefore crucial that our trainers and assessors have the current skills and resources to deliver this training. But how do we ensure that our staff are well-trained and informed while being aware of the most recent developments in their specialist areas? Through industry engagement.

But what does this mean?

Clauses 1.5 and 1.6 of the Standards for RTOs 2015 prescribe how an RTO should undertake this practice. However, these clauses do not specify any particular method or approach. They do, however, specify that RTOs need to demonstrate how, on an ongoing basis, they:

  1. Utilise a range of strategies to consult with their industry stakeholders.
  2. Systematically use this information to determine the:
    • mode of the study, training and assessment strategies and resources, and
    • the currency of their trainers and assessors, as well as
  3. How these align with the current methods, technology, products and performance expectations in the workplace.

A generic template which can simply be signed off by an industry stakeholder won’t cut it to demonstrate compliance of these clauses. But businesses are busier than ever, so how can your RTO ensure that it engages with industry without making it burdensome on your industry contacts?

Here are some ways to make it easy:

1. Take a workforce development approach

We’ve acknowledge that people are busier than ever, so taking the time out of their busy work schedules without it being advantageous to them or their business can be hard to justify. So, approaching your industry contacts using a workforce development approach can provide an effective win-win situation. This approach is where you ask your industry contacts if they will meet with you to answer some questions about their business’s needs, in exchange for some workforce development advice through a training needs analysis.

This process may also lead to additional training opportunities for your RTO, but the workforce development advice shouldn’t only include information about accredited training, as this is only a small component of the training that a business needs in order to upskill its staff. Rather, it should include a range of workforce development strategies, such as work shadowing and coaching/mentoring, which will meet the business’s overall training requirements.

You could use your mobile phone audio app or an MP3 audio recorder to record these discussions as evidence of your industry engagement. To reduce travel time and costs, you could host these discussions in an online meeting room such as Google Hangout or any other online meeting room tool which also allows you to record the discussions.

2. Feedback through existing industry contacts

Every business is looking to work smarter and this is why they have their staff undertake training. This means that you can utilise the industry contacts that send their staff to your RTO for training, by asking them to contribute to a (hidden) course feedback discussion forum. This can be included within the online or blended course set-up in your learning management system (LMS) to help facilitate the training and assessment.

This approach also helps improve the business relationships between your trainers and the employers, as they communicate with one another through regular contact. This will give these employers more buy-in into the delivery of the training, by offering them the opportunity to have input into how their staff are being trained.

And, once all of the feedback is captured in the forum, your trainers can post the actions that will occur as a result of this industry engagement, and then post another response when the action has been completed. All of these posts will be date and time stamped in the forum as to when they were recorded. Trainers can even upload the audio recording of your workforce development discussions to this forum, so that all of the information is stored in one place.

Group discussionCredit: Volunteers by 1295178

3. Monitor trends online

Once you have established what your industry needs in the way of skills and knowledge for a particular qualification, skill set or cluster of units, you need to continue to monitor changes within this industry. A simple way to do this is by participating in industry online groups and forums through webinars, and by subscribing to industry e-newsletters and blogs.

Online professional spaces such as LinkedIn offer numerous industry-led online groups where people share and discuss latest industry news and changes. Industry and professional associations also host a range of online forums through webinars. In both of these spaces you can ‘lurk’ (aka look but not contribute), or you can ask questions or request feedback related to understanding whether your training, assessment, resources and trainers are all meeting your industry’s needs.

In addition to this, subscribing to industry and professional e-newsletters and blogs means that you will have current industry information delivered to your inbox on a regular basis. You then record how you will use this information to verify or improve your training and assessment practices by recording your ideas and actions in a note-taking tool such as Evernote or OneNote. You can even do this on your mobile phone and then upload these needs into the above discussion forum for continuity.

Pulling it all together

If you follow these strategies, you will have recorded you industry engagement through audio/webinar recordings, posts in online groups and forums, and recorded notes and actions. By saving all of these recordings into the one discussion forum within the online course where the training and assessment is taking place, you have now created a one-stop shop for tracking your industry engagement.

Here’s a table to summarise it all:

Engagement strategy Training & assessment Resources Trainers / Assessor currency How
Workforce Development X X X
  • Mobile phone/MP3 audio recorder
  • Online meeting room
Feedback X X  
  • Discussion forum (LMS)
Monitoring trends X   X
  • Online groups
  • Industry webinars
  • eNewsletters / Blogs
  • Note-taking tool

It’s not all about ticking the boxes

The Standards for RTOs 2015 outline the minimum that an RTO should do to engage with industry. This process should not just be about being able tick the boxes for an ASQA audit, however. Rather, we must ensure that our students are receiving the most current and relevant skills and knowledge required to be successful in the workplace and in business. Do you have other approaches to industry engagement that don’t make life difficult for your industry contacts? I would love to hear about them.