Sunday, December 9, 2012

Using #Characters in eLearning, Part 1

I am a big fan of adding characters to my courses when they are appropriate and work with the course design. Starting with this post, I am going to begin a series of posts sharing examples of how I have used characters in learning. When I refer to learning I am not simply referring to only web-based training (WBT), but also job aids, informal learning and marketing learning events.

So, I hope these posts demonstrate how characters can be weaved into a learning design to engage course participants, personalize learning, add entertainment value, provide an avenue for the learner to interact more directly with the content, and lend greater depth and realism to courses. Also, in later posts I will share strategies and examples of using characters in marketing courses and employing them in social media/informal learning.

This post's examples are from a course title "Introduction to Benefit Banking" and its sequel, "Business Benefit Banking." The first course introduced banking staff to a a retail banking service and the second was a commercial banking version of the service. The courses were made in the style of a film noir movie and involved the president of a competing bank, Big Al, hiring a private eye, Sam Price, to visit a branch where he questions staff to learn more about this new retail service. As the user progresses through the course, clicking the movie clapboards, they learn more. When the user is ready they could "report to Big Al" where he asks a series of questions. This was the course's assesssment and by the way when you got an answer incorrect, Big Al was not happy.

A commercial sales relationship service was later offered by the bank and for the training I created a sequel, titled "Business Benefit Banking." In this episode Sam Price was hired again to report back to Big Al about this new service.  A big difference in this course was that it was designed more as a game. When you enter the branch the cursor becomes an interactive magnifying glass and you must search for clues. Each clue provides content regarding the service plus a piece of the secret code. Once all clues are found, the learner will have the entire code and can then report to Big Al... In other words, take the final assessment.

If you are using characters in your learning programs, please feel free to share in the comments section how you have been using them.