Time Management Tips

Background

A fully online school at a private university needed to update their new student orientation program. One of the activities in the orientation program was a time management module. The module featured audio recordings of former students sharing their tips and strategies for managing their time and balancing the demands of work, school, and personal lives. Hearing from real students was cited as one of the best things about the orientation program by many new students. However, the module was created by an Articulate Storyline novice, the activity was full of bugs, and the design was very basic.

Development

The time management module was very simple in its original form: a title slide, 2-3 slides introducing the topic, four audio stories accessed through a dashboard, and three knowledge check questions at the end. Due to time constraints and learner appreciation for the content, I did not want to undertake a large-scale redevelopment of the module. Instead, I focused on modernizing the theme, improving the audio and visual components, and fixing the errors from the original version.

Side-by-side comparison of the original and upgraded versions of the same slide
Side-by-side comparison of the original and upgraded versions of the same slide. The new version includes an image of real students from the university and the ability to pause and seek the slide playback.

I used a combination of Articulate Storyline 360, Vyond, and Audacity to revise this module. Articulate Storyline houses the module, provides the navigation and interactivity, and tracks progress and completion. I used Audacity to normalize the audio levels for each speaker since they were originally recorded on different equipment and by different people. Finally, I created animated videos in Vyond (formerly GoAnimate) to provide movement, visual interest, and lip-synced characters.


Most graphics and layouts are modified versions of templates to provide customization while decreasing development time. The primary color used throughout is the officially branded color for the university. The layouts in Storyline and Vyond were adjusted to include that color and small details to match the real university. For example, the color of the chairs in the library cartoon match the chairs that actually exist in the library. This is a small detail, but I think it’s important to give online students the feeling of belonging on a campus even if they don’t spend a lot of time there.

I reduced the number of knowledge checks from three to two. This reduction let me use the questions to reinforce some of the content covered in the videos rather than quiz knowledge. I also removed the grade from the questions because the content in the module is merely advice, not instructions. The knowledge check questions benefitted from an updated layout and improved feedback, including custom-built indicators of correct/incorrect answers.

The top row of images are the out-of-the-box question and feedback style with a separate feedback slide. The new version uses a modern layout, the university’s official blue, and immediate feedback on whether they selected the correct answer. Hovering over the green and red dots provides additional feedback.

Demo

Click the image below to view a short demo of this module (full module available upon request). This demo contains the introductory content, two of the four videos, and one of the knowledge check questions. The narration has been edited for anonymity.

The module will open in a new window.