Cloud computing and cloud-based services have revolutionized they way we do business. This is true across the board and in all industries. The industry of educational technology has not been immune to this trend. With the introduction of cloud-based services such as Articulate Rise, for example, eLearning developers and learning experience designers have been enjoying the benefits of a cloud as well as additional ways to author and publish content.
Another major launch that the eLearning industry has recently witnessed was the launch of Cluelabs cloud service for eLearning, and particularly the Stencil widgets that any eLearning developer can use to enhance their courses. As of right now, eLearning developers have access to the following Stencil widgets provided by Cluelabs: Location, Leaderboard, Dynamic Text Labels, Custom List, Single Chart or Graph, Comparison Chart. This article will look at each Stencil widget in detail and will explain how those widgets can be used in your eLearning projects.
The location widget determines the geographic location of the learner, parses the data, and returns the location to the Storyline or Captivate module in a form of a set of variables. The module that uses a location widget will receive the following data: City (e.g. “Newark”), Region or State (e.g. “New Jersey”), Country (e.g. “US”), Zip or Postal Code (e.g. “07101”).
Once you have the learner’s location in the module, you can adjust the training path and the learning content accordingly. It is often the case in the legal and compliance training that learners in different US States receive different content based on their geographic location. If you use the location widget to determine the State, you can therefore make changes to the presentation without asking for the input from the learner. Additionally, the business processes in many companies may vary from one location to another. With the location widget by Cluelabs, any eLearning developer can create flexible learning courses that, once deployed, take into consideration the learner’s physical location and present only relevant training content.
Leaderboard or High Scores Widget
The leaderboard widget provides a quick and easy way to add a leaderboard to any eLearning course produced in Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate. In a nutshell, a Stencil leaderboard is simply a table of scores (or other numerical data) with corresponding names (or other text data) saved in the database with a capability to add new records as well as to sort existing records as needed.
There are many reasons for a learning experience designer to want to add a leaderboard to the course. It’s been proven over and over again that the learners pay more attention and generally try to do better when they know that the score they’ll receive at the end of the module will be made public. There are two major driving factors for this behavior: competition (the learners will try to get as high on the leaderboard as they can) and public image (the learners want to look smart and competent). Luckily, a Stencil leaderboard can support both of these drivers. If you are trying to foster a competition among the learners, create a numerically sorted leaderboard with the higher scores on top, and encourage all participants to try to claim the top spot. If you want to encourage accountability among all learners, you can create a leaderboard that simply displays the most recent entries on top, pushing the older records down. This way, each learner will enjoy their 15 seconds of fame on the leaderboard.
Dynamic Text Labels Widget
The dynamic text labels widget allows eLearning developers to replace text in the learning module without the actual process of editing the module itself. This means no publishing, uploading, or re-distributing of the published files is required as well. The widget achieves this by pulling the text from the database, passing it into the variables, and displaying the contents of the variables on the slides. So when the text in the database changes, the text displayed on the slides also changes.
This widget becomes particularly useful when it comes to data that changes frequently. For example, think about having to place the contact details of the union representative on a slide in the module. If the contact information changes, you will have to open the source file, update the text, publish the module, then replace the published files in all locations where you normally save your modules. However, if you use the Stencil dynamic text labels widget, all you will need to do is update the widget data using the Stencil editor, and the changes will be pushed through to the learning module(s).
Custom List Widget
The custom list widget is very similar in the functionality to the leaderboard / high scores widget. The main difference is that while the leaderboard widget renders as a sorted table, the custom list widget reads all the table entries into the variables inside a learning module built in Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate. This means that the learning experience designer will need to take a few extra steps to display the data, i.e. place the references to the variables on the slides and style the text. But this also means that the content can be styled and designed in unique ways beyond the standard grid look. Aside from this, the rest of the functionality of this widget is similar to the leaderboard (entries can be sorted according to the widget settings, or the newest entries can be displayed first).
Chart or Graph
The chart or graph widget allows to generate colorful dynamic charts inside the learning module. The types of the charts currently available are pie chart, 3D pie chart, donut chart, horizontal bar chart, vertical bar chart, and line chart. The data for the chart comes from the variables inside the learning module. The values of these variables are passed to the widget that renders the chart. The developers can fully customize the chart design. This includes selecting the colors of each segment of the chart or graph, setting dimensions, providing captions, etc.
The comparison chart widget is similar in functionality to the single chart widget, but it displays data in clusters, allowing for easy grouping and comparison. The users can create charts such as the column charts, stacked columns, bar charts, stacked bars, line graphs with sharp angles, line graphs with the angles smoothed out, dashed line graphs, and area charts. Similar to the single chart, the comparison chart can also be styled accordingly to the project needs, company style guide, etc.
In this article we’ve covered the following Stencil widgets provided by Cluelabs: Location, Leaderboard, Dynamic Text Labels, Custom List, Single Chart or Graph, Comparison Chart. If you are an eLearning developer or a learning experience designer interested in staying up-to-date in the eLearning field, feel free to experiment with these widgets to find ways to make them work for you and the unique needs of your organization.