I attended an innovative web seminar today that featured integration between omNovia web conferencing and LearningWare AllPlay Web. AllPlay Web automatically segments the audience into teams. As each attendee answers a multiple-choice question, his or her response is checked against the correct answer and if they get it right, their team’s score is incremented. The system displays the voting results for all attendees (similar to a standard web conference poll results display), shows the correct answer, and shows the cumulative scores for each team. As more questions are asked, audience members can watch their team’s competitive supremacy compared to the other teams.
AllPlay Web technically works with any web conference by opening the player in its own browser window and having people log in to play. The integration with omNovia is a little tighter however. omNovia has a tabbed interface that lets the application run inside the conference room frame. The presenter can instantly switch the audience back and forth between slide content, movie clips, and game show questions without making them look at multiple browser windows. omNovia also built a single sign on API so my login details from the web conference were automatically passed to the game without me having to retype my name and email.
Running these types of game show questions in the web conference showed off several unique considerations that content preparers and presenters need to be aware of.
1) Designing good multiple choice quiz questions is much more difficult than it seems. Most questions either have an obvious right answer that trivializes the question, or are so abstruse as to be nothing more than guesswork. Your answer choices should find a middle ground, where knowledge is rewarded with one distinguishably correct answer choice that doesn’t stand out from a set of other choices that are either obviously impossible or frustratingly similar.
2) The phrasing of answer choices needs to be unambiguous. For instance, today we saw a question asking “What most strongly influences retention of material in a presentation?” The answer choices were something like:
- Presentation style
- Emotional state of the audience
The presenter was looking for “Emotional state” as the correct answer, but as he discussed his point, it became clear that it really wasn’t the emotional state of audience members that influences retention – That would be like saying “Angry people remember things better than calm people.” The point was that attaching an emotional connection to a fact helps people remember it. The correct answer would have been better phrased as “Emotional connection to the material.” When your audience starts mentally debating what the answer means, they aren’t demonstrating subject knowledge anymore.
3) Think about what to do during the response window. When you display any kind of poll in a web conference, each audience member must receive it on his computer, read through the choices, consider their response, and lock it in. That takes a finite amount of time. The fast people are sitting around twiddling their thumbs while slower readers or slower internet connections are still working on it. You might consider answering an audience question at this time or restating information such as later availability of a recording or materials. Anything to avoid dead air (a cardinal sin in webinars) or references to things your audience can’t see (“I’m still seeing answers coming in… Interesting responses… Hmmm, a few more still to go…”). There’s a reason that Jeopardy plays its distinctive theme during the final round!
Designing interactive learning materials is a distinct niche in the online collaboration industry. LearningWare has a blog on a variety of subjects including their products and tips for effective use. I also have a subscription to the Articulate Rapid e-Learning Blog, which serves up a steady stream of practical guidelines and examples for creating online course content. Susan Smith Nash runs the E-Learning Queen blog, with many references and resources as well as personal opinions on the subject. And here’s a list from several years ago with many other resources. I haven’t checked to see if all of them are still current.