If you find yourself in the interactivity doldrums, check out the latest version of Raptivity, an interaction creation tool. The full package provides a library of over 170 diverse games, simulations and learning aids. (Please note that Raptivity is an occasional sponsor of this website.)
Types of Interactions
You can purchase the packs separately (the less expensive option) or as one suite. Within each pack are a set of interactions. For example, the Games Turbo Pack has four Television Games (including Jeopardy), four learning games (including Slot Machine) and two Mini Games (including Sudoku).
The Simulations Turbo Pack has interactions for Immersive Learning Situations, Guided Adaptive Scenarios, Whiteboard Simulations and Explorative Branching Simulations. There’s also an HTML5 Starter Pack, which designers interested in mobile learning might want to check out.
You can use the interactions as discrete activities for discovery or practice. For example, stand alone interactions are appropriate for hybrid learning experiences or Thiagi’s Four-door Model. You can also insert the published interactions in a course made from any authoring tool that accepts SWF files.
In this newer version you can clear a template and start with a clean slate, which I did to build the game, Name Me. This seems easier than starting with a sample interaction, which I find a little confusing.
Name Me allows the designer to ask a question about an image and provide multiple choice options for answers. My plan was to create a simple lesson teaching visual design concepts. There are much more complex interactions, including ones with scenarios and branching, but I chose a simpler one for the purposes of this article.
To get started, I accessed the User’s Guide through a link. The guide walks you through much of the process. The key to creating an interaction is the Select Parameter’s section of the screen in the lower left. I’m not sure why Raptivity continues to use technical terminology like “Parameters” rather than “Settings,” which seems like a friendlier approach. But strangely, they didn’t check with me about this.
To build an interaction, simply go through the parameter settings shown below and customize them for your needs.
There are additional options in the menu bar at the top of the screen. Each option is represented by an icon (see below). To find out what an icon represents, you can rollover each option for a tool tip. If I were designing the user interface, I’d use text rather than icons here (or both), as text menus are a convention to which users have grown accustom.
Building an Interaction
After you build the interaction, the objects on the screen may not be placed where you want them. See below.
To remedy this, you can select individual elements and drag them around to rearrange the screen. This was not in the instructions, but was fairly easy to discover. Two features that would be nice to have while dragging objects around are: 1) the ability to drag more than one object at a time by holding the Shift key (a Windows standard) and 2) the ability to Align elements through a menu option. Still, it was easy to rearrange objects and my new layout was more effective (see below).
Switching Between Modes
In Raptivity, there are two main modes for working on an interaction—the Interactivity Editor and Quick View. While designing and building an interaction, you are in the Interactivity Editor. A Quick View tab at the top allows you to see how the running interaction will work. You can easily switch between these two tabs in the upper right of the screen.
When you Save the interaction or click the OK button, however, you are automatically placed into another space, the Interactivity Viewer. In the program’s hierarchy, this is a level up from where you build and view the interactions. You need to click either the Detailed Customization or Wizard-based Customization buttons at the bottom of the screen to return to the design/build space (see below). I’m unsure why there are two ways to see the interaction, but I vote for always using the Quick View tab while you’re still creating the interaction. Then you never leave the workspace.
Preview the Interaction
When I finally constructed a mental model for how things worked, it was easy to build the rest of the interaction. As I added new images to the interaction, however, the screen before me didn’t change. I discovered that you need to use the Quick View tab to check how the interaction looks.
I wanted to try adding this interaction to Articulate Presenter, so I created one that was larger than Raptivity’s standard size. Preview mode comes in one size only, so if your interaction is larger than the standard size, you have to use scroll bars to view it. Their responsive technical support people filled me in on this. Again, that Quick View tab seemed like the way to go for previewing large interactions.
Publish: SWF and HTML5
Publishing the interaction was fast and easy. There are several options for publishing to the SCORM standard. There are also three publishing format options: 1) a single file SWF format; a multiple file SWF format, and 3) publishing for mobile (for many of their interactions).
Anyone interested in mobile learning should note that some Raptivity interactions output to HTML5. This means they will display on Apple devices, which are not compatible with SWF output. Since many software publishers are scrambling to meet that requirement, I was impressed that Raptivity was already there. I ran the mobile HTML output and it ran as well as the SWF file.
Inserting into Articulate
I then inserted my interaction into Articulate Presenter and it ran fine. I found the settings shown below were required to make it run.
You can see many samples of Raptivity Interactions on their site, including those that publish to HTML5.