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Online Learning 101: Part II
Games and Interactivity

By Susan Landay / June 2010

TYPE: EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
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In Part I of this three-part series, Susan Landay identified the best ways for face-to-face trainers to add a component of e-learning to their repertoire. She reviewed software tools that are affordable, have minimal learning curves and focus on lively and interactive tools—specifically addressing authoring and course development.

Here in Part II, she explores the range of games and "interactivities" that can easily be created and posted for online learning reinforcement; selection criteria for the various offerings; plus some features and benefits of a few reputable, cost effective solutions. Part III looks at tools for web conferencing, as well as learning-management systems. —Editor


Games and interactivity e-Learning tools are not for creating entire courses, but rather they are useful for quickly and easily loading games and other "interactivities" into existing courses, presentations, a website, or webinar. If you prefer to stick with PowerPoint as your primary course development tool, these add-ons might help you include new dimensions of interactivity and game-play to your existing materials.

In general these tools let you create and edit games, which can be saved into a file format that is easy to integrate into a presentation, email to learners, post or link to online, and embed as links in authoring tools and Learning Management Systems (LMSs).

Definitions
Just to be clear, let's clarify a few words.

Interactivity: any exercise in which the learner must interact with your content and do something with it—play a game, answer a question, sequence tasks, match answers, etc.
Flash: refers to both Adobe Flash, the software program used to add animation, video, and interactivity to Web pages; and to the type of files created with Adobe Flash software. Flash files saved as .SWF (shockwave Flash or "swiffs") can be read and used with a Flash player, for those who don't own the Adobe software.

Criteria for Choosing Solutions
The evaluation criteria for choosing a software package are fairly straightforward:

  1. How many different types of interactions are included in the package?
  2. What is the quality of the graphics?
  3. Do you prefer to create the games online or off?
  4. Will games be used for self-paced learning or in a guided webinar?
  5. Do you need to track results and integrate with a LMS?
  6. How costly is it?
Recommended Vendors
Here, I've divided product solutions into three sets:

1. Interactivities you can post online or link to in a presentation.
Raptivity by Harbinger
Raptivity software has won a ton of awards from the eLearning Guild, Training Media Review, ELearning! magazine and others. Raptivity may have the most robust library of "pre-built" interactions that allow for customized content to add pizzazz into your e-Learning courses. "Interactivities" include learning games, simulations, videos, puzzles, animations, interactive diagrams, page-flipping books, interactive questions, surveys, brainteasers, flow diagrams, whiteboard simulations, and tons more. The various bundle options make it slightly difficult to navigate the Raptivity site. So here's a simplified overview: To get started you need to purchase either Raptivity Essential (with 35 interactions) or Raptivity Zest (with 12 interactions). Then, you can add on "booster" or "turbo" packs. The packs most useful in keeping with brain-based learning techniques are the Booster Pack 1, Games, Mindplay, and Wordplay.

Claims to fame:

  • Great graphics and ready-to-customize, pre-built templates.
  • Easy to track completion status, scores and responses for each interactivity.
  • Embeds interactions into hundreds of authoring tools, LCMS, LMS, CMS and live collaboration systems.
Pricing:
  • Zest is $395 and Essential is $550.
  • Most turbo packs are $295 each.
  • The Learning Games combo pack includes Essential, plus Booster Pack 1, Games TurboPack, Mindplay TurboPack, and Wordplay TurboPack; it is available for $1249 (reduced from $2130).
Interactivity Creator by Sealund
Interactivity Creator templates include15 different question games: Matching; Rollover; Sequencing; Fill-in-the-blank; Hangman; Dictionary/Glossary; Question Spin; Image Reveal; Maze; Trivia Game; Block3; Answer, Pass, Score (a football game); Connect3; Fun Feud; and PaddlePass (an air hockey game). The interface is very simple and lets you save games as standard Flash files, before posting them to your website or inserting the game into a presentation. The games look great, are easy-to-create, and the price is right.

Claims to fame:

  • Super low-cost.
  • Quickly creates custom interactivities.
  • An option to integrate with a LMS, for results tracking.
Pricing:
  • The price for a single user license is $299.
Quizpoint by Learningware
You can efficiently create and post online quizzes and games, using pre-formatted templates that let you control the number of multiple-choice answers (between two and six), font size, style, and alignment. You can easily import pictures and sounds into questions, as well as during the quiz introduction and on the info screens; including the right/wrong answer sound is also an option. The games can be hosted on Learningware's server or your own. And because the player is Flash-based, students can access your games and quizzes from any Web browser—no additional software is required. Quizpoint includes two game formats. Participants can get instant answer feedback and the facilitator can track all results.

Claims to fame:

  • The invitation wizard lets you quickly distribute the quizzes.
  • Easily track how each participant answered each question and how a team did collectively.
  • Host quizzes on LearningWare's secure server or your own.
  • QuizPoint will keep track of the quizzes that are online and will remind you to update the online quiz after you've made changes on your computer.
Pricing: $995

Thinking Worlds by Caspian Learning
This template-driven software program, launched in April of 2009, allows you to quickly create 3-D games set in a range of pre-designed locations (office, shop, etc.). You can insert people, objects, and questions; and export games to the Web or use them as stand-alone interactivities.

Claims to fame:

  • The only 3-D quick development tool I've found!
  • SCORM and LMS compliant.
Pricing:
  • The annual license is $1,499.
QuickLessons by Quick Lessons LLC
This is a 100 percent online and hosted platform. Users can develop online courses at anytime, anywhere. Using the intuitive interface it only takes a few hours to get started. QuickLessons has a library of templates for exercises and quizzes, and 16-plus game templates (Hangman, Cryptogram, Did you Know (like Jeopardy), Time watcher, Clues, Pairs, Millionaire, Fortune Wheel, etc.). It allows for the management of media and educational content; incorporates pre-developed characters with set-up actions and customization options; and lets you export fully Flash-based eLearning courses that can be posted offline, online, and in LMS compliant formats.

Claims to fame:

  • Multiple authors can collaborate.
  • No software installation is needed and all your games are stored on the Quick Lessons server.
Pricing:
  • Individual: $99 per month per user.
  • Corporate: $149 per month per user (allows for collaboration).
BRAVO! Web by C3 SoftWorks
Create beautiful, engaging, training games—Quiz Show (like Jeopardy), Showdown, Billionaire, and Spin Off. BRAVO! Web Lite promises easy-to-use game board templates that walk you through the simple steps of creating a game. You type in a category, insert questions, and in seconds, you have a game. You can also post and host games. Bravo! Web lets you develop and deploy SCORM compliant games with incredible ease and integrate games with your LMS system. The interface is among the most flexible and comprehensive of the many training game builders. Each game lets you identify the percent of correct responses required for passing, send score data as points or percentage, e-mail results, and create printable certificates.

Claims to fame:

  • Most customizable option (colors, logos, sounds, etc.).
  • Not just an online tool—you can use games both in the classroom and online.
  • Post online, host on C3 SoftWorks site, or load onto your own website or LMS.
Pricing:
  • Bravo Web Lite is $995.
  • Bravo Web (LMS integration) is $1,500.
E Learning Flash Game Templates by ELearning Brothers
If you have Adobe Flash but are not an expert in programming, these Flash-based e-Learning game templatesare super easy to customize and update. The eight templates included in the "Big Bundle" include: Millionaire, Shootout, Boardgame, Pyramid, Bootcamp, Spy Challenge, and Golf Challenge, and Gameshow challenge. They are made to work within most rapid e-Learning software systems (Articulate Presenter, Adobe Captivate, Rapid Intake, Adobe Presenter, Adobe Flash, PowerPoint and more).

Pricing: $700

2. Interactivities you can conduct in a webinar.
AllPlay Web by Learningware
The software lets you create games that can be used to make a live webinar more interactive and engaging. After you create game-show type questions, you invite participants to your webinar with GoToMeeting or Webex. You'll host the game on your computer while attendees play on their own—working alone or in teams. One of the nice features here is that you can customize the look of the game with your own logo, etc.

Pricing: $1,495

PING by C3 SoftWorks
This solution combines BRAVO's four TV-style game shows (described above) with some "virtual" response pads, so all of your webinar attendees can stay engaged by "PINGing" in their answers. The game automatically collects the results so you can track results during and after the event. You can use a connectivity/Web conferencing tool, like GoToMeeting or Webex, to launch these games.

Pricing: $1500

3. Additional stand-alone tools, worth mentioning, that enhance interactivity.
Camtasia Studio by TechSmith
The screen recorder and editor tool allows you to record what you see on your computer screen. You can include audio/video if you have a mic and/or webcam; easily edit, produce and share "screen shot movies"; and include "picture in picture" treatments, callout text boxes, or basic shapes like arrows.

Pricing:

  • The PC version is $299.
  • The Mac version: $150.
Snagit by TechSmith
A neat little program that lets you capture screen images from photos, scrolling windows or videos; and add annotations, arrows, and more.

Pricing: $49.95

Flypaper by Flypaper Studio, Inc.
With this unique software application you can quickly create interactive content and presentations—complete with Flash animations—interactive pages and menus, special effects, transitions, interactive forms for collecting viewer data, branched stories with navigation, and much more. Programming expertise is not needed, and it is much easier than PowerPoint to coordinate timing and animation on slides. Flypaper also includes hundreds of templates.

Pricing:

  • $795 for the desktop version.
  • $1,495 for the professional version.
Instant Video Presenter by ej4, LLC
You can create and edit videos with a green screen background, which makes overlaying the new content with any other background a simple process.

Pricing: $149.99

About the Author
Susan Landay is president of Trainers Warehouse, a women-owned business that offers hundreds of effective, innovative and fun products for trainers and educators across all industries. Prior to joining Trainers Warehouse in 1997, she was a consultant and trainer in the field of negotiation and conflict resolution. She is a graduate of Yale University and The Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Her early work experience included being a professional clown for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.


Comments

  • Tue, 29 Jun 2010
    Post by Susan Landay

    I just learned of a new tool out there called eActivity.

    eActivity is an online application that lets you build custom eLearning Flash activities to be inserted in whatever eLearning platform you are using. You don't need to install any software because it works off the web. Premium subscription offers 56 interactivity templates.

    Monthly subscription is $49.00/month Free 30-day trial is available http://www.eactivity.net/eActivityNet/product.html

  • Wed, 16 Jun 2010
    Post by Seema Chaudhary

    This is a wonderful Quick Start Guide for people who are looking for help in sorting out diffrences and similarities between so many eLearning tools. This review has the right selection of products and also all the critical information is highlighted in a well organized fashion. This link is defintely worth forwarding to educate the trainers, presenters and teachers who are willing to transform their content to more interactive content.

  • Tue, 17 Nov 2009
    Post by roger schank

    Student fixation on content is understandable. They live a system where education means content delivery followed by a test. I am surprised however that you agree with them. Content ought to be, and is in any story centered curriculum, what is remembered long after the course is over. There is hardly as student who can pass an exam that they passed a year before (without studying for it again.) But experiences are remembered if they are interesting, emotional, and full of lessons learned about what to do next time or how to do something. If your course made students perform -- it had plenty of content.

  • Wed, 11 Nov 2009
    Post by Jyoti Bawane

    Dr. Schank, This is Jyoti Bawane, who also recently finished teaching her first online course in India to train students to be as teachers. This course was also based on scenario-based learning, which was developed under the guidance and training received from Dr.Som Naidu. The course was to enable teachers to work in networked environment and be a social change agent. We received a good response from our students, and the best part was a few were initiatlly planning to drop-out, however during the end of this course, these students reviewed their decision and gave the best presentations on the e-seminar. To be honest, my course had absolutely no content, it was all performance based, either go to the field and try out or demonstrate in a hypothetical situation. Infact, few students did complain that there was no content, i am sure these few have not realised that unconsiciously they have developed certain performance skills. i would not blame them for complaining since this is how the traditional education system functions.

    Dr. Naidu shared your work with us and iam glad to see this approach been widely accepted.

    regards jyoti