Ask Me Anything with Karl Kapp

Instructional Technology Graduate Professor at Bloomsburg University

You have questions, Karl Kapp has answers!

Tune in to see Karl’s answers to the first GoAnimate AMA (ask me anything), featuring crowdsourced questions from GoAnimate customers varying from gamification, incorporating GoAnimate into eLearning applications, VR, and more.

Karl Kapp is an Instructional Technology Graduate Professor at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. Watch or read Karl’s responses to your instructional design questions  below.


If you prefer to read Karl’s answers individually, you can read through them here.

How can I learn more about gamification and how to develop eLearning using this methodology? If someone would like to know more about gamification and its implementation where should they start?

KK: I’ve developed a number of resources to help in that area. You might want to follow me on Twitter @kkapp, I regularly post articles about gamification, links to gamification resources and provide information and statistics about what is happening in the field. So that’s a good place to start.

In addition, I’ve written three books which I think can be very helpful in learning about gamification for learning. The first is called “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education.” It’s got a white cover and describes the elements of games and how they related to learning and provides the theoretical background to why gamification is effective for learning. The second book I’ve written on the topic is “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas into Practice.” This book has a black cover and the idea is that it take the concepts from the first book and shows examples, provides worksheets of how to create gamified learning and provides a high level look at implementing the concepts from the first book. But It’s not step-by-step. If you want a step-by-step book, focused on creating learning games, the book I just co-authored with Sharon Boller called “Play to Learn: Everything You Need to Know About Designing Effective Learning Games” is a step-by-step nine step process that walks you through the entire process.

If you don’t have the time to read or want to jump right into instruction. I have three courses on, LinkedIn Learning that would be helpful. They are:

Also, if you’d prefer to take a graduate course, I offer a course in Gamification at the graduate level. It’s a 15 week in depth course that covers all aspects of gamification. And, at Bloomsburg, we’ve just launched an Instructional Game Design Certificate that consists of five courses that will provide a certificate in Instructional Game Design. Very excited about that certificate program.

How can I incorporate GoAnimate videos in elearning applications such as Adobe Captivate to create interactive learning activities? If so, I would love to learn more about the setup of the learning application to accommodate GoAnimate’s format.

KK: One great thing about GoAnimate is that you can export videos in several different formats and one great thing about almost every authoring tool like Captivate, Storyline and Lecture (to name a few) is that they all allow for the importation of videos. That means that moving a video out of GoAnimate and into an authoring tool is easy.

With most authoring tools all you need to do to import a video is to go to the “video import” button or icon, click on it and a dialogue box walks you through importing the video. It’s that easy in almost every authoring tool I’ve ever used. But to make it even easier for you, let me go to my whiteboard. Here is a link for the instructions to upload a video into Captivate and into Storyline. Take a look at the process, you’ll see it’s pretty simple and straightforward.

When do you think we might start seeing more of gamification and instructional design through Virtual Reality platforms?

KK: We are starting to see instructional design become a hot topic within Virtual Reality. It seems to be that every learning technology starts with a great deal of hype around the technology and the focus seems to be on the technology first and then the industry seems to start to focus on instructional design. And good instructional design doesn’t change based on the technology, good instructional design first focuses on the learning need and then decides what technology is the most appropriate. I’ve written several articles on instructional design for virtual reality. Here are some links for you to check out::

Now, in terms of gamification and Virtual Reality, I think VR is a better suited technology for game-based or scenario based learning.  So look for interactive game-based learning or scenario-based learning to be the killer app for VR as opposed to gamification. Because VR totally immerses the learner in the environment, you don’t need to use elements of games (which is gamification), instead you can use an entire game design paradigm for the VR learning event.

How do you best use whiteboard animation? In what context would you use whiteboard animation?

KK: Whiteboard video animation is great for conveying all kinds of instructional content. However, I think there are two areas where it is specifically powerful. Let me turn to the whiteboard to illustrate.

  1. To illustrate a process or procedure. Whiteboard videos are great for visually showing the steps of a process, the order of the steps and the relationship of each step to one another. Each step can be drawn individually, explained in context and then shown in relation to the other steps in the process or procedure. This works really well to describe a linear process like the ADDIE model (Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate) But it can also be helpful for nonlinear processes like describing a nonlinear version of the instructional design model that is surrounded by a circle that includes planning and revision. The visual on the whiteboard really helps the learner visualize the model.
  2. To describe a complex concept or relationship. Whiteboard or explainer videos are great for explaining how one thing relates to another. As an example, explaining the relationship between the three branches of the United States government. The Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches are all separate but all connected to each other and all have inter-dependencies. For example, the Legislative branch can pass a law but the Executive Branch can veto the law and the Judicial branch can declare a law unconstitutional. It’s a non-linear relationship that is easier to explain with images and examples than text. That’s where whiteboard explainer videos can be so powerful. Those videos are a great way to show the complex relationships between the  three branches of government. Many organizations have similar complex relationships among divisions for example and whiteboard videos are a great way to explain those relationships.

    What kind of purpose could animations serve in a course scenario?

    KK: One thing an animation does very well is to help tell a story. I’ve seen animation embedded into a scenario-based learning course where the scenario is introduced by an animation and then once a learner makes a decision that is presented to him or her in the scenario, an animation plays out the consequences of the learner’s decision and I’ve even seen animations used to then show the epilogue or conclusion to the total actions the learner has taken. Well placed animations within a scenario course allow the learner to witness what happens when they choose a certain response and see the answer playout based on their answer. Animations in a video game, for example, help to advance the narrative of what is happening within the game and animations in scenarios can serve the same purpose. I think there are lots of opportunities to use animations within scenario-based learning.

    I’m working with a very large number of stakeholders who provide a lot of contradicting comments on the content. What should I do to keep my stakeholders happy yet stop discussing subjective views?

    KK: The trick to helping to lessen the subjectivity of  feedback from stakeholders is to hold them to specific, quantitative feedback and not ask open-ended questions.  When we ask people for feedback, they feel compelled to do something so they look really hard to correct something and they end up wordsmithing content or providing subjective input (I don’t like the character’s green hair). So, rather than ask for general feedback (“can I have feedback on this course by next Monday”), give them a checklist telling them exactly what they should comment on and what kind of feedback you specifically want from them. For example, ask them “Does this content accurately reflect the corporate safety policy on enclosed spaces?” Yes or No. If no, what is missing? Or ask, “Is this content factually correct?” Or “Does the instruction provide the right level of detail for a new employee to perform this procedure?”

    You can even get more objective in the evaluation by asking “On a scale of 1 to 5, how clear is the description of the safety policy? If you rated it rated a 1 -3 on the poor end, what is missing or unclear and please be specific. This allows them to show you that they’ve reviewed the content without them feeling they have to wordsmith the content to show you they conducted a review. The more structured and formal you are in requesting feedback, the more on topic and direct the feedback will be without subjective views. No you won’t eliminate all subjective feedback this way, but you will greatly minimize the subjectivity.

    How, using animation and video, can you possibly duplicate the required sales ‘soft skills’ training that you get when conducting ‘live’ training sessions?

    Let’s not think of animation and video as replacing “live” training sessions, let’s think of it as augmenting live sessions. First, let’s talk about two things that cause difficulty with live sales training. One is that a great deal of live sales training centers on the process of conducting role plays. When doing a role-play only one or two people are actually applying the sales skills, the rest of the folks are observing, and if one person in the role-play is doing something wrong or incorrectly, then all the learners are observing the wrong behavior. Say the behavior has to be corrected and tried again, but because of a large class size, the person who did it wrong doesn’t have a second chance. It’s someone else’s turn. Second, believe it or not, sometimes sales people will “collude” with each other during the role-play and the role play becomes so easy that a sale is guaranteed because the two people are working together. Or,  the opposite, one person is so obstinate that a sale never happens. And actually, when you are performing a behavior such as in a role-play, it’s often difficult to correctly reflect on what you did during the role play because you are so caught up in the role play you don’t realize what you are doing.

    Don’t get me wrong, role plays can be great for applying skills but jumping into role-plays might not lead to the learning you want. So before the “live” sales training/role play, it might be good to provide videos or animations of the best way to have the desired sales conversation.

    Video and animation can provide a perfect example of the exact behavior, body language and demeanor you want from your salesperson. And, with a video, any part of the sales conversation can be frozen, rewound or reviewed as many times as the sales person in training needs to learn the process.  A video of the sales process can be the perfect example of the best way to approach the sale.

    And observing behavior, attitudes and body language is a great way to learn those skills. According to Albert Bandura’s (an educational theorist). There is something called social learning theory, which is where people  learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. Video is perfect for this. In fact, video provides content and instruction at the learner’s own pace and allows for careful observation of what is happening in the “sales” process.

    According to Bandura, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, we form an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action. So use video and animations to model the ideal behavior and use the live sessions for practice.

    What is the best way to begin initial implementation of virtual/simulation software to enhance technical training for a fairly new training program with a limited training budget?

    KK: First step of any learning initiative is to make sure it is meeting an actual, measurable business need. Once you have done that step, you can inexpensively use PowerPoint to create a branching simulation of software. So what you do is to storyboard the flow of the screens you want to simulation.

    Then conduct screen captures of the software screens and then create links in PowerPoint to move the learner from one screen to another or make the links in the right place on the screen where the learner needs to click. You can create invisible links in PowerPoint so it doesn’t interfere with the look of your software screen.  Here’s a some links to some slides that help explain. You may also want to consider a branching tool like Twine to provide some assistance.

    Where do you see the eLearning industry going and what are some key trends that are shaping it?

    KK: Key trends shaping our industry are technological innovations. I think Virtual Reality is going to occupy center stage in our industry for the next five years and it will be closely followed by Augmented Reality which, I think, will have a bigger impact on eLearning than Virtual Reality. People don’t really like to wear VR goggles, but when Augmented Reality becomes integrated with regular glasses, you’re going to see it used all over the place to assist people with work instructions, standard operating procedures, and assisting customers on a retail sales floor Augmented Reality is definitely something on the horizon that eLearning professionals should be paying attention to.  Also, pay attention to adaptive learning and, of course, gamification. I think that the software interfaces we use today will morph in the next 10 years to be much more game-like.

    During the instructional design process, how do you identify areas where gamification would drive the learning objectives? I’ve seen gamification in segments and as whole pieces. Which approach is best and when, in your opinion?

    KK: This is the old “it depends” answer. I would rarely use gamification for everything and most likely use it in segments. Gamification can be really effective as pre-work for a course and as post-work to pull content through and help learners remember the content after the initial instructional event. In those two cases, it’s gamification as a segment. One segment before learning intervention and one segment after.

    Gamification is especially effective for helping employees and students learn conceptual, declarative, or factual, knowledge. This is because of the repetitive nature of gamification and the typical question and answer construction used in many gamification tools.

    Requiring learners to recall information helps to reinforce the information and makes recall faster and more efficient. Many topics can be covered using gamification. Gamification is often used in new employee orientation, or onboarding, to provide a motivating, interesting, and engaging method of introducing employees to a new company. Gamification is often used to teach salespeople new features and functionalities of products they’ll be selling, and it’s been used to reinforce leadership skills.

    Having said all that, gamification can help set the stage. If you have a comprehensive subject or process, like teaching how to conduct an audit or design instruction, I might put the learner in a gamified experience and have them actually conduct a mock audit or develop instruction for a fictional client. So I think it depends on the content and what you are trying to teach whether or not to segment or us it for the entire design and delivery of the instruction. The key is to look at what you are teaching and determine what instructional strategy is best.

    Our company is creating customized training and LOVES PPT.  What are effective ways of using GoAnimate and incorporating my company’s slides or examples?

    KK: Not sure what your company’s PowerPoint training slides look like but most are simply bulleted text. Unfortunately, bulleted text does not look so good in GoAnimate because you lose the visual element that is so compelling. So what I would do is use GoAnimate to animate your company examples so they can be easily understood. You can then export the GoAnimate videos and include them right in your PowerPoint slides. What I think you want to avoid is just making GoAnimate an animated PowerPoint deck.

    Use PowerPoint for what it does best…show text on the screen in a linear GoAnimate to show relationships, illustrate stories (a great tool for conveying an instructional message), model appropriate behaviors, convey an instructional message, and to show cause and effect. Choose the right tool for the right job.

    Are there examples of how to use GoAnimate to build games?

    KK: GoAnimate is not really a tool for developing games, there are lots of really good tools for game development such as a tool called Construct 2 (with Construct 3 In beta) and a tool called Twine which is a tool that lets you develop interactive stories that are kind of like Choose Your Own Adventure Books. If I was developing a game, I would not use GoAnimate, however, it is appropriate to use GoAnimate to create a video to set the scene or mood for the game as an opening video, as a video to help move the story along in the game, or to provide a tutorial on how to play the game. It’s important for instructional designers to use the right tool for the right job. So, for game development choose another tool, but for videos embedded in the game or a video to explain the game, GoAnimate would be a good choice.

    I see articles where people mostly relate usage of animated videos and game-based training programs with young learners and millennials. How much of this is true? What are the tips to develop these kind of training programs for adult learners?

    KK: Millennials and adults all learn the same way. There is no neurological difference found in research that indicates that young adults learn differently than older adults. So adults and millennials can both learn from game-based training programs and animated videos. I think the real issue is one of familiarity. It seems that millennials might be more familiar with video games and animated videos so they are more “open” to them. However, I’ve seen plenty of “old folks” enjoy video games and animated videos. It’s not a learning thing, it is just a cultural thing. Our culture wants to believe that old people don’t learn from animation and game-based learning, but that’s not true. We all learn the same. So the question should be “what learning design is best for this content?” Sometimes animation is best, sometimes games are best, and sometimes text-based instructions are best. We need to focus on the design of the instruction, not the age of the learner.

    What is the best way to support behavioral change processes?

    KK: The best way to support behavioural change is to have continual reinforcement of the desired behavior. You can’t just teach behavior changes once and expect it to work. You need to continually reinforce the behavior change that you desire. Through training, incentives, and reinforcement of the correct or desired behavior you can bring about that behavior change. Create job aides, reminders, and encourage managers to look for and reward specific desired behavior. It’s hard to do and needs to be a process but remember behavior change is not a one time event, you need to work on it as process.

    For Healthcare training where is a good place to start with gamification?

    KK: Gamification can be highly effective for teaching declarative knowledge, things that need to be memorized, so that’s a good place to start in Healthcare. Gamification is excellent for helping people learn terms, terminology and acronyms. Conceptual knowledge can also be effectively conveyed via gamification, so I think that’s a natural second step: teaching concepts such as mechanism of action or the concept of a certain class or drug or treatment.

    Outside of accumulating points and assigning badges, etc. – Could you speak to any specific examples of successful gaming approaches WITHIN eLearning courses? What have you found to have the most impact on learning?

    KK: The one game element that everyone forgets about, but is far more powerful than points, badges, or leaderboard, is the freedom to fail. Games allow failure, encourage failure and include failure as part of the process. In a game, usually only one person can win and everyone else fails. However, because it’s framed within a game…the sting of failure is reduced.

    And in fact, when you fail or lose in a game, you often want to play again because you think you can do better next time. This encourages non-linear, critical thinking, perseverance, and motivation.  Compare that with most eLearning designs which punish failure, make you feel dumb if you aren’t successful, and force you to repeat content in exactly the same way you just experienced it.

    Research is really clear that we learn so much more from failure than we do from success. So make your eLearning hard, encourage experimentation, and allow failure. In a game, failure is good because we usually start with three  lives and expect to lose some. In eLearning, set the learner up to expect failure and then let them experience the eLearning environment, fail, reflect on that failure, and try again. That is a lesson from games we should all incorporate into our learning design. Points, badges and leaderboards are not why people play games. Overcoming failure and doing better than you did last time are two reasons people play games, so let’s take the right things from games.

    What  tips would you give for developing online courses? What  traps would you propose all eLearning creators should avoid?

    KK: Here are my tips for developing an online course:

    1. Start with a legitimate, verified organizational need. Not the whims of a manager or random thoughts of an executive. Identify and measure the business objective driving the course.
    2. Don’t make the course too easy. Too many eLearning courses are too easy and when a course is easy, people don’t think it’s valuable. You need to add some rigor to your elearning courses.
    3. encase your instructional message in a story. Stories drive learning, increase retention and provide models for learners to follow. So use stories in your instruction.

    And here are my traps to avoid when developing your online course:

    1. don’t start your elearning module with a list of objectives. They are boring and are skipped by most learners. Instead, turn the objectives into questions. Don’t start with “You will learn three steps for closing a sale” because a good salesperson says “ha” I know four steps, stop wasting my time. Rather ask the question “Do you know three steps for successfully closing a sale?” Maybe the learner does and maybe she doesn’t but now she’ll pay attention to see if she knows the steps.
    2. Avoid allowing an 80% pass rate on a quiz. Instead, do something like a question run. Tell the learner he needs to answer all five questions right and then he’s done. But if he misses even one, he’ll have to answer five more questions and tell this to the learner at the beginning. It’s amazing how people will pay attention because they don’t want to answer more questions than they need.
    3. Treat the learner with respect. They have a certain degree of competence and knowledge or they wouldn’t be in the job, so don’t patronize or talk down to them. Instead, treat them as an adult and encourage thinking within the design of your eLearning module.

      How do you tackle the people who discourage you?

      KK: Well since I am not even six feet tall, I try not to tackle anyone. But joking aside, Carl Jung, a famous psychologist who established the discipline of analytical psychology once said “ The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed.”

      Attempting to overcome doubters and those who have discouraged the use of games and gamification for learning has both focused my work and motivated my actions. I try to listen  to  what those who attempt to discourage me say, and examine it to see if it has merit. That’s not always easy because critics and doubters are often cruel, but usually within any criticism, there is a hint of merit. Once somebody  commented that if gamification was so great, why wasn’t I incorporating it into my presentations? At the time, that was a very valid critique. So now every one of my presentations about gamification is gamified.  I encourage anyone to look at their  critics, doubters, and haters as stepping-stones to building a stronger, better position. These are people who, for free, test your assumptions and help you more strongly focus on your goals. Know you will always encounter obstacles and resistance if you are breaking new ground. You can’t plant new crops without disturbing the soil. So I don’t dwell on those who try to discourage me, I just work toward my own goals. Others can choose to come along or not.

      Want to read more like this? Check out Instruct Visually: How to Produce High Quality eLearning with GoAnimate written by Michael Zielinskie, one of Karl’s master program students at Bloomsburg University.

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