1. Scattered Steps

Here’s the Scattered Steps learning interaction from my eBook, Engaging Interactions For eLearning:

Description: Display the steps of a process or procedure scattered throughout the page. Have the learner put the steps in the correct order. Instruct the learner to click on a Check My Answer button once they are finished.

If the learner does not order the steps correctly, show the process breaking, stopping, not working, etc., as a result of their actions. Describe why the order is incorrect (ex. the valve did not release the correct amount of pressure).

You may consider having the pieces snap together like a puzzle so that the learner sees when a correct connection is made.

Example: Display scattered steps representing a safety procedure:

What are the steps for correctly addressing a hazardous materials spill? Put the steps in the correct order.

Level(s) of Interaction: 2
Knowledge Type(s): Factual

Let’s get this thing started!

The Scattered Steps learning interaction works well when teaching and/or assessing procedural knowledge (step-by-step tasks); it’s a natural fit. You can also use it when working with factual knowledge by having the learner organize items based on their properties. For example, give the learner a scrambled list (or even better – images) of the United States and have them arrange the states by the order in which they were established. If testing conceptual knowledge, you may consider having the learner organize items based on their potential to affect a given scenario. For example, give the learner 10 types of safety risks in a factory and have them put the risks in order based on their potential for causing harm to people or equipment.

You can design a hi-tech or low-tech version of any interaction. Choose the right version based on your resources and your opinion of whether or not the extra glitz adds to the learning experience. Here’s another example: Below is a mock-up of a drag-and-drop interaction that tests the learner’s ability to tie (or know how to tie) a Windsor Knot. You could develop this interaction using Flash and maybe Captivate.

Example 1

For a low-tech version, I’d consider this option, which would require HTML and a little JavaScript:

Example 2

For an even lower-tech version, you could present the learner with a series of images showing the steps in different configurations, and have them select the image that shows the correct order. I suppose you could do this in…(sigh)…PowerPoint.

What would you do differently? What tools would you use?

Thoughts, comments, examples? Please share them!

(Tie images courtesy of Tie-a-Tie.net.)


5 Responses to “1. Scattered Steps”

  1. 1 Rupa September 17, 2007 at 7:23 am


    Nice post.

    I have some views here:

    Tools apart, in the interactivity you have illustrated in this post, just showing the images and allowing the learner to guess the right procedure without any clues, I guess would be too tough especially if the leaner has no clue about tying the knot.

    Any learner can randomly enter numbers and get most of them right without any learning actually happening.

    The Check my answer button might lead the learner to the right procedure.

    But the vital question is , will the learner actually remember the right procedure? How is learning being facilitated?

    To make learning happen instantly and to help learners retain the knowledge being gained, you could have clues or small facts about tying a Windsor knot using which the learner can think and identify the right procedure during the course of the interactivity.

    This is just a random suggestion.If we think hard we can come up with better ideas.

    I guess the objective is not just to help learners know how to tie a Windsor Knot but to retain this piece of learning.

    So while designing interactive exercises, we need to think hard on how to facilitate effective learning while we engage the learner.

    Please let me know your views.

    By the way your book was very interesting.

  2. 2 B.J. Schone September 17, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Hi Rupa – thanks for your comments. You make some good points.

    First, I’d like to respond about the type of interaction. You’re absolutely right – this is more of an assessment interaction than a learning interaction. We’re assuming the learner has some knowledge of how to tie a Windsor Knot. However, with some minor changes, we could change this to be a learning interaction (and then use the assessment interaction later in this particular learning training scenario). How would we do this? We could tell the learner about the Windsor Knot, provide its basic information (its history, its advantages), and then perhaps show a short video of the knot being tied. At that point, the learner would be asked to put the steps in order to check their understanding of the procedure. And of course, it would be highly recommended that the learner has a chance to try this with a *real* tie. There’s nothing like ‘learning by doing’, right?

    Finally, you asked, “(How) will the learner actually remember the right procedure?” This leads to something that I intentionally left out of my post – and that is feedback. It is important to provide feedback to the learner during – or after – they attempt an interaction. We need to tell them if they’re on the right track, or if they need to re-think their choices. We may even provide hints or tips depending on where the learner is in the training scenario. This is where we can have the most impact; it’s critical to provide meaningful feedback to reinforce learner’s understanding of the correct procedure. We may also choose to provide feedback upon incorrect actions and explain why their choices were incorrect (ex. “You started off correctly, but you ended up missing the third step. This could cause the Windsor Knot to be too loose.”)

    Would you change anything else?

  3. 3 Rupa September 17, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Cool… Thanks for starting such an interesting discussion.. Looking forward to more such posts.

    Once again, your book rocks.

  1. 1 My Comment on B. J. Schone’s Post - Scattered Steps « Writers Gateway Trackback on September 17, 2007 at 9:21 am
  2. 2 2. Myth or Fact « Engaging Interactions For eLearning Trackback on September 21, 2007 at 1:29 am

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